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Troubling escalation in Donetsk: heavy weapons back after “DNR” shells own city and blames Ukraine

Destruction in the area of “Amstor”, Universitetska Str, 80.
Troubling escalation in Donetsk: heavy weapons back after “DNR” shells own city and blames Ukraine
Article by: Andriy Horbal and Alya Shandra

Donetsk, the city in eastern Ukraine under control of the “DNR,” is under fire from within the city. The shelling began at 8PM on 18 July 2015. This is being reported by Donetsk residents on an open forum called DonetskForum. It is not yet clear what the reason is for the damages; some forum users assume that it is a provocation, others think it may be an internal conflict within the Russian-backed leadership of the self-proclaimed republic. The users of the forum, living in different regions of Donetsk, exchange remarks about where the shelling is coming from, and where the impacts are. We have placed them on a map:

Map of reported outgoing shelling and shelling impacts on 18 July 2015, based on local reports on the DonetskForum

Promptly, the “DNR” official social media page reported about a purported shelling of Donetsk by Ukrainian armed forces and mentioned that the “LNR” mortars have already returned and have resumed shelling Ukrainian forces:

“The enemy has started heavily shelling Donetsk and positions of the “Novorossiya army.” Both mortars and artillery are used. Our guys answer rather sluggishly, although the positions of the junta in the area of Pisky and Mariinka get shelled quite well. […] The impacts mostly hit the Kyivsky and Petrivskyi raions. The positions of the ‘Novorossiya army’ in Horlivka were also shelled. The shelling began after the statements of the DNR on the unilateral withdrawal of artillery from calm regions of the front. […] The “LNR” returned its withdrawn mortars, and from yesterday on they have been ‘working’ with them on the ‘junta’.”

Russia’s state-run propaganda outlet RT was prompt to report on “Ukrainian forces shelling a hospital,” posting photos of a shelling near the Amstor store on Universitetska 80. According to the local reports on the DonetskForum, this place and others were shelled from within the city.

However, the Ukrainian positions are too far away to be shelling the city with mortars:

On July 18, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the self-proclaimed leader of the rebels, said that the “DNR” armed forces were ready to pull their artillery from the frontline, ahead of the July 21 meeting of the Minsk Trilateral group on the implementation of the ceasefire, Radio Liberty reported.

[hr]Here is a summary of damages to Donetsk as of 10 pm, 18 July 2015:

Kyivskyi raion:
– University str, 65 – damaged windows
– University str, 75 – shelling hit the business center
– University str, 76 – windows partially damaged on the 1st floor
– University str, 80a – cigarette kiosks and pavilions near Amstor (former “Ukraine”) destroyed, shells hit the road in front of the public transport stop.
– Shchorsa, 65, 67, 71 – damaged windows (with shrapnel)
– Shchorsa, 69 – shells hit the five-story building
– Artema str. 108a – minor damages

Kuibyshevskyi raion:
– Tselinogradskaya Str., 46 – City Hospital №23, shells flew into the intensive care unit of the cardiology department and into pulmonology department, a doctor and several patients were injured.
– Lermontova, 19 – one shell struck the roof and two near the building
– Lermontova, 23 – shell hit the garage
– Pyatnitskogo, ? – house is burning

Voroshilovskyi raion:
-Bohdana Khmelnytskogo – impact into the bridge (near the “Furniture Empire”)
– Impact in the 3rd city pond, near the beach of “Arcadia” restaurant.

Some selected translated exchanges from the DonetskForum:

“Voroshilovskyi raion. People are running from the park of the forged figures.”
“People are running from the Embankment too. This is the first time in the past six months.”
“Five minutes ago four tanks and gasoline truck went from the railway station towards the airport, via Shakhterska ploshcha.”
Outgoing somewhere in Kyivsky district… Putylivka?
“Now Durnaya have started shooting from cannons, kind of return fire. How disgusting this all is…”
“Explosions are coming all around, while volleys are outgoing from one place.”
“Peaceful negotiations are carried out with single heavy shots somewhere from Grygoriivsky dumps, Shchehlivka.
Shelling sounds like from Durnaya-Azotny indeed. And comes in quite nearby. Damn, how loud it is near the circus!”
“I get the impression that two cannons shot from one place in different directions.”
“Smolyanka heard incoming shells, apparently in the area of the Culture education school [KultProsvetUchilishche], outgoing apparently from Hladkivka
“So scary in Hladkivka! Residents are hiding, outgoing shelling is just nearby, from the 5th district – Putylivka – constantly from heavy weapons and from within residential areas.”
“Hvardos, center. There is simply an epic horror of volleys, I hear this for the first time since February.” “I haven’t heard them shell so artistically for a long time at the Botanic Garden: double shots, with trails, with an interval of a second or less. God save Hvardiyka, and where those shells are going…”
“Petrivka, outgoing shelling from our area started!”
“Petrivka, explosions are getting heavier and closer. Light [electricity] dims in and out.”
“Are they [Russian-backed terrorists] fighting among themselves, or what?”
“There was information, that there will be a provocation. Russian cameras [TV crews] went several hours ago.” [Ed: Russian crews are famous for collaborating with the Russian-backed terrorist forces to create the needed image for Russian TV].

Residents of Donetsk reported several fires in the city, the last one – in the area of the bridge on Khmelnytskyi Prospect.

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