Ukrainian warplanes bombarded separatist positions along a broad front Saturday, inflicting huge losses, Kiev said, in line with President Petro Poroshenko vow that "scores and hundreds" would be made to pay for a deadly missile attack on government forces.
In exchanges marking a sharp escalation in the three-month conflict, jets struck at the "epicenter" of the battle against the rebels close to the border with Russia, a military spokesman said. The planes targeted bases from where separatists — using high-powered Grad missiles — bombarded an army-motorized brigade in Zelenopillya on Friday, killing 23 servicemen.
Meanwhile, artillery fire killed at least four people in an overnight attack on Maryinka, a residential area in Donetsk, spurring more people to flee the besieged city and its suburbs on Saturday. The overnight artillery strike hit four apartment blocks near a rebel base. It was unclear, however, which side fired at the buildings.
Pro-Russian insurgents last week retreated from the strategic city of Slovyansk and holed up in Donetsk, a city of one million, and potentially the final frontier for the rebels.