Ukraine interim president Oleksandr Turchynov said many pro-Russian rebels have been killed and arrested after Ukrainian forces resumed their mission to retake the city of Slovyansk in the east of the country at first light.
He admitted though in a statement the mission was not going as quickly as he hoped.
The separatists are digging in.
“Our city is being stormed and we have already taken casualties. I would appeal to the children, women and pensioners not to leave their homes, men who have arms to assist in any possible way. We will defend our city,” said the self-proclaimed mayor of the city Vyacheskav Ponomaryovy
Ukraine’s anti-terror centre said in a statement that “half of the city” was under control of its units by midday. It is a fluid situation with claim and counter claim not always able to be verified.
The separatists say the extremist Right Sector has been involved in the military operation.
Two Ukrainian helicopters have been shot down, with two pilots killed and another injured according to the Defence Ministry in Kyiv. It is understood the injured pilot is being detained by the separatists.
The Ukrainian security service says rebel forces used sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles, proving that pro-Russian forces were among them.
Four men have been arrested by Ukrainian defence forces for allegedly attacking one of the their helicopters.