Ukraine rebels claim pulling back smaller weapons

Rival sides accused of failing to remove heavy weapons fully from buffer zone as civilians keep dying.

    Pro-Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine have claimed to have begun pulling back military vehicles with small-calibre weapons from most of the frontlines.

    The fighters said on Sunday that tanks and armoured vehicles with weapons under 100mm would be pulled back 3km in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

    Andrei Taran, a Ukrainian army major-general, dismissed the announcement as deceptive, the Associated Press news agency said.

    The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the ceasefire, has said neither of the rival sides has fully withdrawn even heavy artillery as required by the peace deal - signed in February.

    Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford, reporting from the frontline in Pysky town, said on Sunday he saw Ukrainian army tanks in a zone that was supposed to be clear of all heavy weapons, but the soldiers justified their presence by saying that the separatists were also violating the truce deal.

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    "A few days earlier we had been in separatist-held territory and heard the fighters using similar heavy weapons," he said.

    Meanwhile, civilians keep suffering in between those violations.

    On Saturday, three more civilians, including an elderly woman and her disabled grandson, were killed in a separatist attack on army-controlled territory.

    A resident told Al Jazeera that they came under attack because the residential building was used by the army next door.

    The military denied it, but Al Jazeera's team noticed a hidden tank next to the destroyed building.

    More than 6,400 people have been killed since the war started in April 2014, the UN has said.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And AP


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