A Pro-Russian rebel walks in a passage at the local market damaged by shelling in Petrovskiy district in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine August 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Mstislav Chernov)
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The United States Thursday accused Russia of being "directly involved" in fighting in war-torn east Ukraine, after rebels appeared to seize swath of territory from retreating government forces.After weeks of government offensives that have seen troops push deep into the last rebel bastions, the tide appeared to be turning once again in the four-month conflict, prompting a nervous government in Kiev to call on NATO for help.French President Francois Hollande warned on Thursday it would be "intolerable and unacceptable" if Russian troops were on the ground in Ukraine.Ukraine's government claimed Wednesday that a battalion of Russian soldiers had set up a military headquarters near the village of Pobeda, around 50 kilometers southeast of Donetsk. Russia vehemently opposes closer ties between Ukraine and NATO.Opposition media in Russia reported on hushed-up funerals for two elite unit paratroopers, suggesting they had been killed in action in Ukraine.
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