Ukraine claims troops end rebel blockade of Luhansk airport

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Ukraine says its military has succeeded in ending a rebel blockade of Luhansk airport in the east.

Kyiv says Ukrainian forces, backed by warplanes, broke through rebel lines surrounding the strategically important airport, where its troops have been blockaded for weeks.

A separatist leader was quoted as saying government columns had been repelled.

As the army intensified its offensive against separatist-held cities over the weekend, the Ukrainian artillery were accused of launching massive strikes on Donetsk suburbs.

Kyiv denied it, blaming the separatists.

Reports suggest a dozen civilians were killed in eastern regions.

For some the fighting has become too much. Five coaches left eastern Ukrainian towns including Donetsk on Monday morning, heading for Russia.

Around 200 civilians are being taken to the Rostov region and are seeking refugee status. They include women and children from the families of pro-Russian separatists.

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