KIEV, July 23 Pro-Russian rebels are leaving
their positions on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian city
of Donetsk and retreating towards its centre, Ukrainian military
officials said on Wednesday.
Residents said the rebels, who want independence from Kiev
for Ukraine's Donbass region, had dug trenches in downtown
Donetsk outside the main university, where they have been living
in student dormitories.
Ukrainian forces have forced the rebels back to their two
main strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, taking villages and
suburbs around them to try to squeeze them out.
"In Donetsk, rebels abandoned their positions en masse and
went towards the central part of the city," the headquarters of
what Kiev calls its "anti-terrorist operation" said in a
"It cannot be ruled out that the appearance of such
movements could suggest the spread of panic and attempts to
leave the place of warfare."
Residents said they had heard shelling during the night and
a shell struck a chemical plant in the city, causing a fire.
Fighting was also reported in Luhansk overnight, officials
in Kiev said.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, editing by Timothy Heritage)