July 14, 2014
Ukrainian war planes have killed 1,000 rebels in a massive bombardment on separatists, it has been claimed.
President Petro Poroshenko has said that ‘scores and hundreds’ would would be made to pay as he vowed to avenge a deadly missile attack on Ukrainian forces.
In exchanges marking a sharp escalation in the three-month conflict, jets struck at the ‘epicentre’ of the battle against rebels near the border with Russia, a military spokesman said.
The planes targeted positions from where separatists, using high-powered Grad missiles, bombarded an army motorised brigade on Friday, killing 23 servicemen.
Warplanes also struck at targets near Donetsk, the east’s main city where rebels have dug in, destroying a powerful fighter base near Dzerzhinsk, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ said.
‘According to preliminary assessment, Ukrainian pilots … killed about 500 (rebel) fighters and damaged two armoured transporters,’ Mr Lysenko said.
In an earlier air attack on a base near Perevalsk, north of Donetsk, two tanks, 10 armoured vehicles and “about 500” rebel fighters were destroyed, he said.
Rebel representatives denied they suffered big losses and said the Ukrainians were using outdated intelligence on where separatist forces were deployed.
‘There were no volunteers (rebels) where the Ukrainian aviation was active yesterday,’ said a spokeswoman for the Luhansk-based separatists, referring to the Peravalsk attack.
Earlier, the border guard service said jet fighters were scrambled to strike at the pro-Russian separatists after they resumed missile attacks on government forces deployed near the frontier with Russia, south-east of the city of Luhansk.
In the military action, which began on Friday evening and continued well into Saturday, five Ukrainian servicemen were killed, Lysenko said. There were 16 overflights by Ukrainian fighter jets in all, he said.
The surge in violence on Ukraine’s border with Russia, south east of Luhansk which is controlled by separatists, sparked fresh Ukrainian accusations against Russia of involvement in the border fighting.