Ukrainian "Creeping Offensive" continue
Posted by: badanov
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By Chris Covert
Ukrainian forces, occupying a buffer zone near Gorlovka, have fired on a civilian bus as the rebels charge Ukraine with continuing a "creeping offensive" in the area, according to official rebel reports.
Meanwhile, rebel forces have lost nine effectives in fighting between last Friday through Sunday in rebel attacks on Avdievka.
A news release posted on the website of the Donetsk ministry of defense said that Ukrainian fire hit a civilian bus traveling along a bus route near the Donetsk to Gorlovka road, although the release did not elaborate as to the type of fire. Other rebel media say that Ukrainian forces have been firing mortars at nearby sectors, including at Yasinovataya near where the bus was hit.
No one was reported hurt on the bus.
The attack last Monday has been characterized by rebel officials as a creeping offensive because of how slowly the attack has developed. Both sides have armored mobile vehicles and experienced mobile troops at their disposal sufficient to force a decision at most sectors of the front, but instead of mobile warfare, the fighting has been mortar fire and occasional pot shots.
The news release by the rebel officials said that a building used by rebel forces at a checkpoint has been damaged, and due to ongoing mortar fire the road has been shut down by rebel officials.
The Donetsk-Gorlovka road is a critical road for the rebels that links Gorlovka and Donetsk, both under nearly constant Ukrainian artillery fire since the summer of 2014. The area that is blocked by mortar fire also includes a railroad used by the rebels.
The closure of the road to civilian traffic has caused tie-ups on nearby roads, according to the Gorlovka Pravda news outlet.
A total of 60 vehicles traveling from Gorlovka to Ukrainian occupied Artemovsk have been forced to return, while traffic has been slowed in the other direction as well.
As for the offensive, Donetsk ministry of defense spokesman Lt. Colonel Eduard Basurin claimed that the Ukrainian moves are an attempt by the Ukrainians to began a "semi circle" around Gorlovka, as a prelude to encirclement. Past data from Ukrainian sources have indicated that an encirclement battle will likely go through Gorlovka towards points southeast, much in the same way Ukrainian forces attempted to encircle Donetsk city back in the summer of 2014.
The encirclement battles back in 2014 resulted in the Battle of Ilovaisk, by every account a military disaster for the Ukrainians, and Debaltstevo only six months later, which itself was a disaster for both the Ukrainian and the rebels.
In addition to blocking rail and auto traffic, a water treatment plant has come under Ukrainian artillery observers, but, as far as available reports indicate, has not come under artillery fire.
Fighting near Avdievka
According to a news report posted on the tsensor.net.us news outlet, rebel forces repeatedly have attacked Ukrainian positions in Avdievka using infantry, mortar fire and tank gun fire, from March 5th to March 8th.
According to the report nine rebel soldiers were killed in attacks on the town, and anther 13 were wounded.
A separate report filed earlier the same day said that rebel forces fired 82mm and 120mm mortar on Ukrainian positions at Opytnoye and Peski both of which are adjacent to Avdievka
Other locations under rebel fire include in Lugansk, and in Shirokino in southern Donetsk.
Ukrainian military officials saty that a total of three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in the Peski-Avdievka area.
A report penned by a writer for Russian reserve FSB Colonel Igor Girkin's novorossinform.org news outlet, identified as Ruslan Lyapin, said that the fighting for the area of Yasinovataya has been constant since Monday.
Lyapin warned in his report that should the Ukrainians take Yasinovataya, other sectors in the area would be in danger, and that Gorlovka would be effectively surrounded. He said that the Ukrainian's creeping tactical movement would eventually force rebel forces away from some parts of the line of contact, in much the same way rebel forces were pushed out of Shirokino.
Lyapin said that Zaitsevo, to the immediate north of Gorlovka, is almost fully invested by Ukrainian forces.
Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter. You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraine by clicking here.
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