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By Chris Covert

Ukrainian forces near northwestern Donetsk city launched an attack on rebel positions in key northwestern suburbs Monday evening, according to Russian language Ukrainian media and rebel media.

Sunday it was reported that two Ukrainian rifle companies attacked a rebel position at Spartak, which is barely a kilometer north of the airport. Rebel media said at the time that the Ukrainian probe was turned back.

On Monday rebel media said that Ukrainian forces had renewed their assault on Spartak and had launched an attack on Peski, which is southwest of the airport.

Spartak is close to the suburb of Opytnoye, which is just west of Spartak. Spartak was taken by rebel forces just before the first ceasefire, and had been used by the rebels as a marshaling point for their forces near Avdievka, which is north of Spartak.

Both Avdievka and Opytnoye are key Ukrainian held towns, used by Ukrainian forces to site their artillery. Rebel media for the last two weeks have been reporting mortar fire emanating from the two towns into Donetsk city, presumably on rebel targets.

Ukrainian media reported that rebels were hitting their positions in Peski early Monday morning with 120mm artillery and with self propelled artillery. Ukrainian reports also said that rebels had brought armored vehicles into Peski.

Russian language Ukrainian reports claimed that rebel 120mm mortars pounded Ukrainian forces at Peski for six solid hours Sunday morning. In other Ukrainian reports, it emerged that some Ukrainian volunteer forces had left Peski, which may have sparked the rebel bombardment.

Other Ukrainian reports said that neither had used heavy artillery, which would include 120mm mortars.

Early reports from the media were that rebel forces holding Peski were driven back, and still other sources said that elements of two rebel battalions holding Peski, Vostok and Somalya, had been surrounded with one top rebel commander, Mikail Tolstykh, in danger of capture. That report was submitted to online sites on April 13th at around 2200 hrs, Moscow time.

Subsequent rebel reports indicated rebel commanders considered both attacks to be an attempt to make a break in the line, and that threat had been eliminated, with rebel forces still holding eastern sectors of Peski.

Rebel reports were that rebel units holding Peski had been driven out of their positions in Peski, but were able to counterattack and "regain lost ground." Civilian reports say tank gunfights were taking place around Peski as well.

Other reports say that rebel relief forces were thrown into the fight at Peski, so presumably those forces helped turned back Ukrainian attacks and helped restore rebel positions.

Rebels claim no losses in either engagement, while saying that Ukrainian fores lost one soldier, with two wounded and one captured. Ukrainians said they lost no one as well, but two were wounded.

Rebel forces have held parts of eastern Peski since the winter, just after rebel forces took full control of the airport. Since the February 12th ceasefire, rebels have made no efforts to take full control of Peski, opting instead to hold their positions.

At last report, attacks by both sides continue into the night.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at grurkka@gmail.com and on Twitter. You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraina by clicking here.

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