Ukrainian soldiers killed in clash at Debaltseve

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Debaltseve: Five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 14 wounded in clashes with Russian-backed rebels near the eastern town of Debaltseve.

Fighting has erupted on the streets inside the town, which until now had been the scene of artillery exchanges between government troops inside and heavily-armed rebels encircling it.

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But government and rebel leaders indicated they would withdraw only after the other side does so.

“As soon as the militants cease fire, the Ukrainian side will begin to withdraw heavy weaponry from the frontline,” said government military spokesman Anatoliy Stelmakh, who claimed his troops were pounded by the rebels overnight.

Rebel leader Andrei Purgin said the separatists were prepared to discuss withdrawing with the international group monitoring the ceasefire, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

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