Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride on armored personnel carriers (APC) near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
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Fierce fighting raged Friday in east Ukraine between government troops and Russian-backed separatists as the warring sides attempted to bolster their positions ahead of a weekend cease-fire deadline.Regional authorities loyal to Kiev reported four civilian deaths in areas under their control, while rebels said seven people were killed in artillery attacks on the separatist-held cities of Luhansk and Horlivka.Separatist forces recently have nearly completely encircled a Ukrainian garrison in Debaltseve, where all but a few thousand civilians have fled to areas away from the front.The Donbass Battalion, a unit with Ukraine's National Guard engaged in battles around Lohvynove, said in a statement that captured combatants had confirmed Russian troops were actively involved in battles.The cease-fire is to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's observer mission in Ukraine.
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