Friday, 29 August 2014

4 Journalists Escape Ilovaisk Encirclement With Volunteer And Army Troops

The BBC Russian Service reports that four Ukrainian journalists have managed to escape the separatist encirclement of the town of Ilovaisk, where Ukrainian forces have been engaged in a bloody struggle for control of the town and are now surrounded.
Maksim Levin, a correspondent for Ukraine's Leviy Bereg ( wrote on his Facebook page:
"Friends, we cannot believe we are alive. Today I (, Markiyan Lysenko (Ukrinform), Ivan Lyubish-Kirdey and Georgiy Tikhiy (Germany's ARD TV) escaped from the encirclement in Ilovaisk and experienced a second birth."
The BBC continues:
According to him, they broke out in their own car together with fighters from volunteer battalions and soldiers. During the breakout their convoy was shelled, as a result of which, one Ukrainian tank was knocked out.

 The journalists' car also came under fire, causing Levin to suffer minor injuries. 

"Thanks to our luck, or God (for those who believe) and our decision to join at the start of the convoy, we escaped from there," said the journalist.
Maksim Levin's wife Valentina confirmed, in comments to the BBC Ukrainian Service, that the journalists were save and were heading for Kiev.
Markiyan Lysenko said in an interview with the BBC Ukrainian Service that the four of them were in Volnovakha and would soon travel to the Ukrainian capital. 
According to Telekritika, there are three more Ukrainian journalists in the Ilovaisk area.
On August 25, Espresso TV journalist Yegor Vorobyov, cameraman Taras Chkan and Traffic Control journalist Rostislav Shaposhnikov entered the encirclement.
Maksim Levin wrote that the Ukrainian soldiers in the Ilovaisk encirclement are engaged in tough fighting and need immediate assistance.
Earlier, the commander of the Donbass battalion, Semyon Semyonchenko, wrote on Facebook that, during the breakout from Ilovaisk, a column of Ukrainian soldiers had fallen into an ambush.
"During the attempt to withdraw from Ilovaisk all the members of the battalions and the Armed Forces fell into an ambush. They established a defensive perimeter and are fighting," wrote Semyonchenko.
He appealed to the ATO leadership to assist the Ukrainian soldiers immediately.
The battle for Ilovaisk has been extremely violent and costly.
Here is footage (purporedly filmed on August 27) broadcast by Russia's LifeNews (long suspected of close ties to that country's security services) showing fighters from the separatist Motorola battalion fighting in residential areas of the town and using heavy weaponry including RPG-26 disposable anti-tank rocket launchers in the grounds of a school.

This footage has been geolocated by @djp3tros who writes the Ukraine At War blog. 
He has identified the building as School Number 13 in Ilovaisk by comparing features of the building with satellite photos:
These poles here:
Are also visible in this geotagged photo on Panoramio:

Today, Semyonchenko wrote on his Facebook page that despite original plans to assault the town with 800 troops and armoured units, the attacking force had ended up numbering only 340. He says that, had they received reinforcements, the whole town would be under Ukrainian control. He says that Russian-backed separatist fighters shelled the town with tanks, mortars and Grad, Smerch and Uragan rockets. He also described how Ukrainian fighters would kill themselves with their grenades to avoid capture (as reported earlier today) as the militants would brutally execute any captured volunteer fighters.
He blames the failure of the mission and the loss of lives on the negligence of Ukraine's military leadership, who he accuses of lying about the support provided to the embattled troops in Ilovaisk.
Yesterday a protest, called for by Semyonchenko, was held outside the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Kiev.  Semyonchenko addressed the crowd by phone over a loudspeaker but urged civilised restraint, today describing those who broke windows and tore down fences as provocateurs.
On today's events, he wrote:
The commander of one of the groups that broke out from the town called me. They were attacked by seven Russian tanks and up to a battalion of infantry. They were attacked while moving. The attack was repulsed and 12 prisoners were taken. I've done all that I can for them. Now everything depends on their resilience and your prayers. It's too late now for someone to protest again. We just have to wait now.

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