by Maximilian Clarke
Artillery strikes continue to pound the suburbs around Donetsk as Ukrainian Government forces attempt to consolidate their encirclement of the rebel held city.
One strike in Makiivka left at least two civilians dead when Grad rockets missed their apparent target - a separatist artillery battery - by an estimated 800 meters and struck a residential area. The nose cone of the notoriously inaccurate rocket artillery platforms designed for area bombardment could be seen buried into the tarmac outside an apartment complex where a pool of blood and woman’s shoe lay nearby. Another 100 meters up the road, two corpses lay on the road where another rocket struck outside the local shop shortly before noon on Tuesday (19th).
The intensity of strikes has been increasing in recent days as the government turns its sites on the strategically important industrial city after a securing string of victories in smaller towns across the pro-Russian breakaway state of Novorossiya.
The eponymous capitals of the coal-rich Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts have been held by pro-Russian separatists since a coalition of the two cities’ People’s Republics declared their independence in May this year after Russia’s surprise annexation of Crimea in the wake of the Maidan protests that led to the toppling of pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanucovych in February.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the region continues to deteriorate, with ReliefWeb estimating the number of internally displaced persons at 118,000, of which a third are children. 117 schools have been hit or destroyed across the region largely by the use of imprecise artillery, chiefly Grad and the larger Uragan multiple launch rocket (MLR) systems.
Lugansk has suffered particularly badly, having been without water or power for more than two weeks, before seeing intense street battles erupting on Tuesday (18th) as government forces clash with Lugansk People’s Republic forces in an attempt to retake the breakaway city.
Water supplies in Donetsk were also cut off on the night of Sunday (17th August), though some residents have been provided with water by Kamaz trucks. Electricity and gas supplies remain for most of the city, though it is not known for how long they will last.
Though the majority of bombardment has been concentrated on separatist targets chiefly in the city’s less densely populated suburbs, strikes on Tuesday could be heard close to the former Ukraine Security Services (SBU) building on the eastern edge of central Donetsk where closely packed high-rise apartment blocks house far greater population density.
Fear and uncertainty hang heavy in the air in Donetsk as the fraction of the population who remain wait helplessly for the Ukrainian army to storm the city, which will happen with a savage intensity and without warning.
Images © Maximilian Clarke
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