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Ukrainian forces free Slovyansk  ? photos 144

7:43, — Europa

Ukrainian forces free Slovyansk

An operation to free the town has begun this morning.

At 4:00 local time, the troops began to take control over checkpoints around Slovyansk. The terrorists, who seized the town, report that Ukrainian troops have resumed the anti-terrorist operation.

Two servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were killed and several others were injured when two Mil Mi-24 helicopters came under fire outside of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has said in a press release.

"Two Mi-24 helicopters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were shot down over Sloviansk in Donetsk region early on May 2 while on a patrol mission. According to preliminary reports, the combat aircraft were shot down by unknown individuals using man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). As a result of the shooting, two servicemen were killed and several others sustained injuries," it said.

In addition, a Mi-8 helicopter of the Army Aviation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was damaged with shots from small arms.

"People were not killed or injured in this case," the ministry said.

An investigative commission is working at the scene.

The Defense Ministry said that the use of MANPADS against the Ukrainian Armed Forces clearly indicates that acting against the military in Donetsk region are not "peaceful protesters," but well-trained and armed professional subversive groups which, by committing terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage, are trying to destabilize the situation in the region.

"This behavior is characteristic of the military of another country, who act against an 'enemy' determined by their leadership, or mercenaries with considerable experience who are ready to act against anyone for cash or another reward," reads the report.

The Defense Ministry and the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces expressed their sincere condolences to the families of the deceased servicemen.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said earlier that one pilot of the Ukrainian Armed Forces had been killed near Sloviansk.

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