Kyiv, August 18, 2015. Russia-backed militants fired at Ukrainian positions most intensely between August 14 and 18. The total number of ceasefire violations reached 545, said ATO Staff spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Anatoliy Stelmakh at a press briefing via Skype at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “The militants became less active on August 17. Nevertheless, Ukrainian troops in the Mariupol sector came under fire from 120 mm mortars and multiple rocket launchers in Starohnativka. According to the Ukrainian intelligence report, militant groups suffer from shortage of manpower. They replenish their ranks with so-called people’s militia and ex-convicts. Moreover, about one hundred convicts of prison No. 60 in Sloviansk will fight for the militants. The ATO Press Center reiterates that Ukrainian Armed Forces are not shooting at residential districts of frontline cities if the intelligence reports of militant positions there,” said Lt. Col. Stelmakh.
On August 16, Russia-backed militants used grenade launchers and 120mm mortars near Stanytsia Luhanska, Luhansk region. “The situation significantly escalated on August 16. Militant groups fired from 122 mm artillery and mortars on Novohryhorivka, and targeted Hranitne and Sartana from 152 mm artillery. Sartana was attacked from the direction of militant-controlled Sakhanka and Kominternove. Two local residents died and six were wounded as a result of the shelling, including one child,” said Lt.Col. Stelmakh.
ATO Staff spokesperson also said that militant attacks by Sartana destroyed over fifty households; five houses were ruined by direct hits. “Observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission arrived to Sartana and started recording the results of the shelling. Joint forces of local authorities, military representatives and emergency services created an emergency response to conduct expert assessment of the results of the shelling and provide aid to those who was affected by the attack. Local authorities declared August 17 a day of mourning in Mariupol,” explained Lt. Col. Stelmakh.