Written by Chris Covert exclusively for SouthFront
More than 700 artillery shots were fired by Ukrainian artillery on Donetsk rebel positions in Donetsk Saturday night, among the most intense bombardments of the war, according to Russian language news accounts.
According to a new release posted on the website of the Donetsk ministry of defense, Ukrainian artillery fired included 152mm and 122mm artillery, and 120mm and 82mm mortars, for a total of 750 shots. The intensity of the artillery firing from the Ukrainians has not been seen since before the autumn of 2015. The total number of shells that fell on rebel positions was almost ten times the number from the previous night, 80.
Locations hit in Donetsk included Zaitsevo, Yasinovataya, Spartak, Staromykhailivka, the Kuybyshevsky district of Donetsk city and the Donetsk airport.
In the south near Mariupol, locations struck by Ukrainian artillery include Kominternovo and Sahanka.
A separate news release by the Donetsk ministry of defense said that 20 each 122mm artillery shells hit the Kuybyshevsky district of Doentsk city Saturday night.
The Ukrainian ministry of defense, as reported in lb.ua said that rebel artillery struck Ukrainian positions 70 times Friday night in the previous 24 hours.
Rebel artillery hit Ukrainian positions in Avdievka, Peski and Marinka. In the south, rebel artillery hit Ukrainian positions in Shirokino, Granitnoye and Talakovsk.
Fighting on the ground in Donetsk
Donbas militants attempted several platoon level probes into Ukrainian positions at Marinka Thursday and Saturday nights, according to data supplied by the Ukrainian ministry of defense and reported in an lb.ua news report.
At 2100 hrs Thursday a rebel patrol armed with small arms and RPG rocket launchers probed into Ukrainian positions at Marinka, only to be driven back by Ukrainian counterfire. The Ukrainian side reported no casualties in the encounter. The report also said that rebel 82mm fire was reported at Marinka on Thursday evening.
At 1900 hrs on Saturday, two separate rebel patrols attempted to move into Ukrainian positions from two different directions. The rebel losses amounted to eight dead, but the Ukrainian ministry refused to account for their own losses at all, which likely mean there were some losses.
Probes by both sides at Marinka are starting to become routine, with several taking place in the past week, with high losses reported.
Fighting in Lugansk
Ukrainian army units have fired mortars and small arms on Lugansk rebel positions, mainly focusing on the area around Kalinovo, according to data supplied by the Lugansk government information website.
It is unclear in those news releases just how much of the firing was done by mortars, but it is clear going by the most recent reports, rebel have to be worried about the location of the activity.
Kalinovo was one of the locations back in January, 2015, where rebel forces attempted to shut the lid on the Debaltsevo cauldron to little avail. That failure forced rebel commanders to adjust their plans to close off Debaltsevo, when the battle for Logvinova took place.
Saturday night Ukrainian fire hit positions near Kalinovo and Logvinova, including fire from 30mm autocannon, RPG fire and mortars.
Logvinova was attacked earlier this month by a large Ukrainian combined arms force, attacks which struck a number of locations across a large front. The attack was much like others before and since, where Ukrainian forces attempt to move their armed units into “gray zones”, in order to initiate close quarters fighting, to force rebel forces back even further into their own defensive zones. To date only the first, at Yasinovataya, has been successful.
A separate Lugansk government news release recounted how Ukrainian units are using their firepower to fight one another in Lugansk.
Artillery units with the Ukrainian Interior Ministry troops Lugansk-1 battalion shelled positions of the Ukrainian 28th Separate Mechanized Brigade. The report claims that the shelling was intended to be reported as a rebel provocation.
Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org