July 29, 2014 - 14:37 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Intense fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian armed men in eastern Ukraine killed at least 19 civilians, local officials said on Tuesday, July 29, according to Reuters.
Ukrainian forces have been pushing the militias back towards their two main urban strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk and have sought to encircle them in several places, including in the wider area where a Malaysian airliner crashed on July 17.
Officials said 14 people, including five children, were killed in fighting on Monday evening in the town of Gorlovka/Horlivka, one of several spots that saw fierce battles between the rival forces in the last few days.
In the city of Luhansk, officials said five civilians were killed when shelling hit a retirement home.
A source in Donetsk said reinforcements including military equipment and fighters had crossed the nearby border with Russia into Ukraine. Reuters said it was not able to confirm that independently.
The pro-Russian activists say 7,400 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured since Kiev launched what it calls its "anti-terrorist" operation against separatists in the east in early May. Kiev puts the toll at fewer than 1,500.
A humanitarian corridor was due to open in Luhansk for six hours on Tuesday to allow residents to flee the fighting, but officials said they could not guarantee full safety.
The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have already fled Ukraine's tumultuous east.