SLAVYANSK: Ukraine’s military lost two helicopters and two servicemen on Friday in a deadly offensive launched just before dawn against pro-Russian rebels holding the flashpoint town of Slavyansk, insurgents and authorities said.
“A full-scale attack” was being mounted, said a spokeswoman for the rebels in the town.
Agence France-Presse jour–nalists reported seeing eight armored vehicles and up to 100 troops advance to within five kilometers (three miles) of the town.
Explosions and small-arms fire were heard sporadically and helicopters were seen flying extremely low.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said two military Mi-24 helicopters had been shot down and two servicemen killed.
It said the rebels were using shoulder-launched missiles to bring down the aircraft. Small-arms fire also damaged an Mi-8 helicopter but no occupants were hurt, the ministry said.