Ukrainian soldiers load a Grad missile during fighting with pro-Russian separatists close to Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)
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After days of street battles and weeks of shelling, Ukrainian troops made significant gains Wednesday into rebel-held territory, capturing a large part of the city of Luhansk and nearly encircling Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city, in fighting that left at least 52 dead.Ukrainian troops have been trying for weeks to drive the rebels out of Luhansk and cut off Donetsk, a city of 1 million that has shrunk by a third as frightened residents fled. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security Council, told reporters Wednesday in Kiev that government forces were now in control of "significant parts" of Luhansk, an eastern city just 20 kilometers from the Russian border.
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