Shelling continues in Donetsk and northern Lugansk subject logo: DONBASWAR
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By Chris Covert

Shelling continued in Donetsk city and in parts of northern Lugansk over the weekend, but one Donbas rebel formation commander said that his group has taken two key points at the Donetsk airport, according to Russian language news reports.

The Donetsk airport, the lion's share of which is under control of Donbas rebel forces, has been a severe point of contention between the two combatants since the start of the truce in early September. Ukrainian forces holding the main terminal have been supported by forces deployed just a few kilometers away in Peski, to the southwest and in Avdeyevka, to the northwest.

Ukrainian forces are said to be taking advantage of a tunneling system at the airport to hold the main terminal. Donbas rebels say the Ukrainians have been using the airport control tower to direct artillery strikes in the city.

According to the commander of the "Somalia" rebel battalion, identified only as "Givi", Donbas rebels have taken control of the control tower and the fire station.

According to quotes published in news outlet, Donbas rebels now control the road between the airport and Peski, where the Ukrainians are using to marshal relief forces constantly being rotated in and out of the airport.

If what "Givi" is saying is true, then most of the artillery strikes in Donetsk city directed from the airport control tower will likely end, or be greatly reduced.

The operation also places the Ukrainian hold on the airport in a tenuous position.

In Avdeyevka to the northeast, Ukrainian news outlets say that Donbas rebels are trying to surround Ukrainian forces there in a bid to end Ukraina's hold on the airport.

According to a report by "Givi" and other rebels, Donbas rebels destroyed an armored relief column Sunday consisting of a tank and two infantry fighting vehicles, probably BMP-2s. Attempts by the rebels to take the tank as a prize failed because of Ukrainian heavy fire.

Saturday it was reported that the newly elected president of Donetsk, Aleksandr Zakharcheno visited rebel positions at the airport, but came under rocket artillery from Ukrainian BM-21 rocket artillery launchers. Neither he nor his security detail were wounded in the incident.

Rebels say that the Ukrainians had caught wind of Zakharcheno's the visit through social media.

Donetsk Artillery Shelling

According to pro Donbas rebel press, the night of November 9th and November 10th were quiet. Ukrainian artillery units emplaced at Avdeyevka were fired on by Donbas rebel artillery units, which were said to be return fire against Ukrainian artillery strikes. It is unclear in Donbas rebel reports just where the Ukrainian artillery strikes landed. Donbas rebels claim a total of four Ukrainian soldiers dead in the Avdeyevka artillery missions.

Ukrainian press say that Donbas rebel artillery units killed three civilians and one soldier, and wounded seven others. The Ukrainian report said Donbas rebels fired a total of seven rounds, which landed in an unidentified residential area. Donbas rebels, according to Ukrainian press reports, confirmed the civilian casualties saying the Ukrainian forces fired upon were deployed in the residential area.

Donbas rebels also say the artillery strikes were recorded in Donetsk city in Kirovskoye, Kievsky and Kuibyshevsky districts. Elsewhere in Donetsk, Donbas rebels say Ukrainian artillery struck in Debaltsevo, Nikishino, Olkhovatka, Mius and Redkodub towns, all northeast of Donetsk city. Donbas rebels claim they returned fire against the Ukrainians.

Northern Lugansk

Near the North Donetsk River line, Donbas rebels report mortar and small arms attacks were fired on Ukrainian position in Nizhneye, which is just south of the river. Donbas rebels also fired on targets along the highway that connects Krimskoye and Zolotoye.

Just four days ago a large Ukrainian armored column was spotted several kilometers north of the North Donetsk River line, traveling to the southeast, presumably to Schastye, which is about ten kilometers east of Nizhneye.

The Ukrainian have held Schastye since late August.

Schastye is important to both combatants, for the Ukrainians since it is a likely jumping off point of any new offensive and to the Donbas rebels who want to push Ukrainian military forces away from Lugansk city.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for He can be reached at You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraina by clicking here.

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