Written by Chris Covert exclusively for SouthFront
Ukrainian ground forces have launched a total of five probing attacks on rebel positions in Donetsk since Tuesday, according to Russian language media and official rebel reports.
Meanwhile, Russian backed rebel forces and Ukrainian forces continue to exchange artillery fire all along the front in Donetsk and Lugansk.
All the probing attacks involved infantry, likely in platoon strength (30 effectives) , and all have been driven back with losses to the Ukrainians, according to news account posted on Russian Spring website. The attacks continue a now familiar pattern where Ukrainian forces nudge their forces closer to rebel lines in an effort to slowly push the rebels further back into their own territory. So far, only one of those types of attacks, at Yasinovataya last spring, have been successful. A second attack was tried at Logvinovo earlier this month, when Ukrainian forces launched a number of attacks on rebel strongholds and checkpoints, only to be driven back.
As previously reported, a July 11th probing attack by Ukrainian forces took place at the Donetsk airport. In the July 11th attack, according to data supplied by the Donetsk ministry of defense, a total of three Ukrainians were killed and another seven wounded, when rebel rifle counterfire drove them back.
The Donetsk airport has long been a strong point of contention between the two combatants, with rebel forces taking control of most of the airport grounds in brief, but bitter battles, January, 2015.
The following day, July 12th, two more probing attacks took place in Donetsk, one at Novotroitskoye and the other in Avdievka, which is a western suburb of Donetsk city.
Elements from the Ukrainian 1st Battalion 30th Brigade attacked rebel forces at Novotroitskoye, but were driven back by rebel counterfire. Ukrainian forces, according to official rebel media lost seven dead.
The Avdievka attack cost the Ukrainians five dead. The forces involved in that attack were most likely from the Ukrainian 58th Separate Rifle Brigade.
Two days later, on Thursday, July 14th, two more probing attacks took place in Donetsk, according to a news report which appeared in Russian Spring.
The first came at Marinka, in southwestern Donetsk, and was conducted by the Ukrainian 30th Brigade, while the other attack fell on Arkhangelsk, which is near the city of Gorlovka. The Arkhangelsk attack cost the Ukrainians five dead.
The Marinka attack, conducted by the Ukrainian 13th Battalion of the 30th Brigade cost the Ukrainians another four dead and seven wounded.
A late report by Russian Spring said that a firefight was taking place in central Gorlovka near the market area.
Artillery fire exchanges between forces
Rebel forces fired mortar and artillery fire on Ukrainian positions in Donetsk and southern Donetsk, according to an lb.ua news account, relying on data supplied by the Ukrainian ministry of defense.
On Tuesday, July 12th, rebel 122mm artillery fire fell on Ukrainian positions at Nikolaevka, while 120mm mortar fire struck Ukrainian forces at Zaitsevo (north of Gorlovka), Avdievka, Semigorye, Novoselovka and Novoselovka. Rebel 82mm mortar fire hit Ukrainian positions at Novgorod and Dacha.
In southern Donetsk, rebel 122mm artillery fire hit Ukrainian positions at Krasnogorovka, while rebel fired 82mm mortar fire on Shirokino.
According to the Donetsk ministry of defense, Ukrainian forces fired 130 artillery and mortar shells total at rebel positions on the night of July 12th to July 13th. Ukrainian forces used 122mm artillery on the western Donetsk suburb of Staromykhailivka, and 120mm and 82mm mortar fire at Zaitsevo Gorlovka, Aleksandrovka, Trudovskoy, the industrial zone near Yasinovataya and the Volvo Center in western Donetsk city.
In southern Donetsk, Ukrainian mortar fire hit rebel positions at Kominternovo and Sahanka.
On Wednesday, rebel forces fired on Ukrainian forces a total of 28 times, to include all small arms incidents. Among the artillery missions fired, rebels struck Ukrainian positions at Avdievka using 120mm amd 82mm mortar fire. According to the data supplied by the Ukrainian ministry of defense which appeared on lb.ua, rebel forces fired 122mm artillery fire at Peski and Opytnoye, both western Donetsk suburbs.
In southern Donetsk, rebels fired 120mm mortar fire on Ukrainian position in Starognatovka, Bogdanovka and Novogrigorevka. Rebel forces fired 82mm mortar fire on Krasnogorovka and Marinka.
According to a separate news release by the Donetsk ministry of defense, on the night of July 13th to July 14th, Ukrainian forces fired a total of 180 shells on rebel positions, some of which hit and damaged residential housing.
Among the localities hit by Ukrainian artillery fire and starting at 1945 hrs, were Zaitsevo, Trudovskoy, Aleksandrovka, the Volvo Center of western Donetsk city, Donetsk airport and at Yasinovataya. Locations in southern Donetsk hit by Ukrainian artillery were Sahanka, Kominternovo and Novoazovskiy.
A late report by lb.ua, said that rebel forces fired on Ukrainian forces a total of 72 times on July 13th, which include small arms fire incidents as well as artillery fire. Among the incidents not included by the Ukrainian previous report was an incident in Lugansk where rebel forces fired 82mm mortar fire at Novotoshkovka.
According to a separate rebel report a total of 27 residential structures were damaged by Ukrainian artillery fire over the previous three days, most of them in Zaistevo.
Overnight artillery attacks by Ukrainian forces in Donets on the night f July 12th to July 13th damaged 17 residential housing buildings in Zaitsevo. Subsequent Ukrainian artillery attacks on the night of July 13th to July 14th damaged residential buildings in Staromykhailivka, Trudovskoy and the Petrovsky district of Donetsk city.
In southern Donetsk, residential buildings damaged by overnight bombardment include those at Kominternovo and Novoazovskiy .
Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at email@example.com