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The situation in Avdiivka area has worsened greatly. Militants attempted to storm the industrial zone, and began a heavy fighting in which seven Ukrainian soldiers were killed. In total the fighting lasted for 19 hours. ATO forces managed to eliminate DNR battalion commander with the call sign Grek and take strategically important positions.
"Today the DNR battalion commander with the call sign Grek was killed", said the representative of the Ministry of Defense of DNR to journalists.
On the death of one of the militants' leaders informed journalist Yuri Butusov on his Facebook page.
"A group of Russian mercenaries led by the commander of the 1st Battalion of the 100th DNR Brigade Ivan Balakay (Grek) was destroyed - information confirmed by the opponent, large losses in this area were recognized by curator of the 100th Brigade and well-known traitor, Secretary of the so called NSDC DNR Oleksandr Khodakovskiy”, Butusov wrote.
The town of Avdiivka is located 6 km north of the occupied Donetsk, and its industrial zone is the closest to Donetsk military point controlled by Ukrainian forces. In February 2016 the ATO forces entrenched in the area, and since then it has got under constant fire of the militants.
Early in the morning of January 29 the militants attempted to storm Avdiivka industrial zone again. Around 5 a.m. they began an intense bombardment using small arms and mortars. And already by 7 a.m. gunmen began assault with the aim to push away the Ukrainian divisions. At the same time the militants on their information resources assert that Ukrainian military were first who attacked their positions and they just fired back.
Speaker of ATO HQ Leonid Matyukhin says that the militants’ tactics this time was the same as during the hostilities at the Svitlodarsk arc in December 2016. That time, according to ATO headquarters, when gunmen tried to dislodge Ukrainian military from their positions near the Luhanske settlement and change the line of contact between the sides, 5 of our soldiers were killed. At the same time, there were allegations about ATO forces which went on the offensive.
Under the militants’ fire got not only the positions of Armed Forces of Ukraine, but also residential areas located near the industrial area. It is known about the wounding of two residents. And closer to the midday due to the shelling city remained without electricity and water supply.
“Russia-backed militants have just killed the power line to Avdiivka. The filtration plant (Donetsk filtration plant) and coke plant (Avdiivka coke plant), which provided heat for Avdiivka, are now de-energized. The city is left without water, electricity and heat,” stressed Pavlo Zhebrivskyi, the governor of Donetsk oblast.
According to ATO HQ, during the day pro-Russian militants continued firing from mortar shells on Avdiivka, and after attacks made another attempt to dislodge our troops from their positions in Avdiivka area.
Later Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak slightly clarified what happened in Avdiivka. He said that two groups of militants 25-30 persons each went to assault.
"At one position this progress was halted by military personnel of the Armed Forces, and at the second our military went on the offensive and took an important position, which has a strategic importance. Unfortunately, there are casualties among our soldiers. The situation in the ATO area is difficult, but controlled," Poltorak said.
Members of 72th Guards Brigade said that after the militants retreated to a second line of defense, forces of ATO in pursuit of militants, captured their positions, entrenched there and improved their tactical situation. According to the brigade, 9 the militants were killed, at least another 24 were wounded during the battle. Later, the Ministry of Defense clarified that 15 militants were killed.
Among the dead is the commander of DNR battalion with call sign Grek, and he is called the initiator of the storming of Armed Forces of Ukraine position. In addition, during the fighting Ukrainian troops captured one militant. In total three of the wounded militants were detained during the fighting, but two of them died of the wounds.
Former commander of the Vostok brigade Oleksandr Khodakovskiy confirmed that Ivan Balakay nicknamed the Grek (marked on the photo) was killed near Avdiivka.
Journalist Yuriy Butusov writes that Grek was one of the most experienced commanders of militants, who fought in Slovyansk, participated in the battles on the border in the sector "D" starting from June 2014, in Mariinka area, Snzhne, Saur-Mogyla, where a number of our units, including the 72th Brigade, were surrounded by Russian regular army and troops of mercenaries.
According to Butusov, Grek also participated in the battles for Yasinuvata in August 2014, he commanded special mercenary unit of the Vostok brigade, and after Russian command organized the occupation army, he headed the battalion and for two years participated in fighting near Donetsk.
"About him we know that he is a former citizen of Ukraine, a former soldier from Donetsk, who the first days took part in anti-Ukrainian demonstrations organized by the Russian special services March 1, 2014, and moved to the side of the enemy," notes Butusov.
Around 4 p.m. gunmen opened chaotic fire on residential areas of the town: several hits reported near the hospital, more than three near the temple, nine hits in the apartment building with military medics and volunteers.
Avdiivka shelling continued throughout the night, but their intensity has slightly reduced. The 72th Brigade reported that reinforcements arrived to their positions later.
This morning, gunmen again opened fire from the tanks and artillery. As a result, two soldiers were killed and five wounded. The Defense Ministry calls situation in the Avdiivka industrial zone difficult, there is information that DNR militants have pulled up rocket artillery to the front line.