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Press TV: Donetsk now epicenter of fighting, casualties to continue over Ukrainian shelling

A picture taken on June 30, 2022 shows a shell crater in front of a damaged residential building in the town of Siversk, Donetsk. (By AFP)

The eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk is currently the epicenter of fighting between Kiev forces and Russian troops, a Press TV correspondent says, adding that casualties will continue to rise as Ukraine shells civilian areas in the restive region.

Johnny Miller made the remarks in a Tuesday live report for Press TV from the center of Donetsk, the capital of the self-proclaimed Donbass Peoples' Republic, where he is covering the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

"Here in Donetsk, there was about a week in which there was no Ukrainian bombing of this city… but a few days ago, the shelling of Donetsk began again," Miller said. "Ukraine, since the beginning of Russia's invasion, and intermittently in the last 10 years, has been shelling civilians in Donetsk, trying to terrorize the population effectively, and trying to inhibit their support of pro-Russian forces here. Unless Russia makes some more counterstrikes against their artillery positions, we can expect the killing of civilians here to go on for the coming days."

Local media reports earlier said that explosions were heard in different parts of Donetsk throughout the day, and large palls of black smoke could be seen rising into the air across the city. Among the targets was a dealership and technical facility for Russian-produced KAMAZ trucks, which was hit and quickly engulfed in flames.

Pro-Russia forces as well as residents in Donetsk said on Tuesday that several people, including a 10-year-old girl, had been killed as a result of shelling in the city by the Ukrainian army.

"They're shelling everywhere now. But I don't really want to leave my home behind. I have a child. I hope someday this will stop; I hope for peace. I hope they stop shelling, that we can move around the city calmly, walk around, and go to the sea one day," said Natalya Koreneva, a Donetsk resident.

Russia's TASS news agency cited Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, as saying that the Russian-backed forces were moving toward the restive region to combat the Ukrainian artillery shelling of Donetsk and its neighboring towns.

At least two killed in Russian shelling of Sloviansk: Authorities

In another development on Tuesday, local authorities said at least two people were killed and seven more injured as Russian forces pounded the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk.

"Sloviansk! Massive shelling of the city. The center, the north. Everyone, take shelter," Mayor Vadim Lyakh wrote on Facebook.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, which includes Sloviansk, also said on Telegram that two people had been killed and seven others injured in shelling that the mayor said had targeted the city's market.

Earlier Russian strikes on Sunday had left at least six people dead and 19 injured in Sloviansk, which had a pre-war population of around 100,000. Ukrainian authorities have asked residents to leave the city.

Moscow announced at the weekend that Ukraine's Lugansk region had fully been "liberated" by Russian and separatist forces following a withdrawal by Ukrainian forces from the city of Lysychansk, the last major stronghold in the restive region.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Lugansk region, said in an interview with local media that Russia planned to shift the main focus of its military offensive to seizing the neighboring Donetsk region after capturing Lugansk.

Reiterating Ukrainian calls for more arms from Western allies, Gaidai said his country's forces could launch a counteroffensive when they had sufficient long-range weapons.

Back in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing breakaway Lugansk and Donetsk as independent republics. Russia launched the military offensive in Ukraine on February 24. At the time, the Russian leader said one of the goals of what he called a "special military operation" was to "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

The military operation has led to a deeper feud between Russia and the West, with the United States and its allies slapping unprecedented sanctions on Moscow and flooding Ukraine with advanced weapons.

Russia has said the Western flood of weapons into Ukraine and the sanctions would prolong the ongoing war.  

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