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Ukraine says suspends attacks to let experts reach crash site, rebels deny
By Reuters -

Ukrainian tanks move along a road near Eastern Ukrainian village of Novoselivka Persha July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

Members of Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Donbass" fire their weapon near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin 

A Ukrainian tank moves along a road near Eastern Ukrainian village of Novoselivka Persha July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

A member of Ukrainian self-defence battalion "Donbass" stands at the positions near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin

Members of Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Donbass" are seen at their positions near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin

Members of Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Donbass" are seen at their positions near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin 

A Ukrainian tank moves along a road near Eastern Ukrainian village of Novoselivka Persha July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

A member of Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Donbass" fires a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin

A woman passes by members of Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Donbass" near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin

Members of Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Donbass" are seen at their positions near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin

Members of Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Donbass" move along a road near the town of Pervomaysk July 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Maks Levin

An armed pro-Russian separatist and a man show fragments of spent ammunition outside a damaged multi-storey block of flats following what locals say was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces in central Donetsk, July 29, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin 

A woman walks out of a damaged multi-storey block of flats carrying her belongings following what locals say was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces in central Donetsk, July 29, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin 

A car drives past the remains of a spent ammunition on the suburbs of Donetsk July 29, 2014.
Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin 

Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard on the suburbs of Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region July 28, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Smoke rises above a damaged multi-storey block of flats following what locals say was shelling by Ukrainian forces in Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region July 28, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

A man walks into a damaged multi-storey block of flats following what locals say was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces in central Donetsk July 29, 2014. Intense fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine killed dozens of civilians, soldiers and rebels, as Kiev pressed on with an offensive on Tuesday including near the wreckage of Malaysian flight MH17. Shells hit the centre of Donetsk, a city with a pre-war population of nearly a million people where residents fear they will be trapped on a battlefield between advancing Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed rebels who have vowed to make a stand. Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Armed pro-Russian separatists inspect a van as they stand guard on the suburbs of Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region July 28, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin 

 
Ukraine said on Thursday it had suspended offensive operations in its military campaign in east Ukraine to help international experts reach the downed Malaysian airliner's crash site but separatists were continuing to attack its positions.
Kiev said on the Facebook website of what it calls its "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO) against pro-Russian rebels in the east that it was heeding calls by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stop fighting near the plane crash site.
"On July 31, troops involved in the active ATO phase are not conducting military operations apart from protecting their own positions from attack," it said. "But mercenary fighters of the Russian terrorists are not respecting any international agreements and requests."
The rebels have accused Kiev of blocking access to the Malaysian MH17 flight crash site by fighting in the area.
"Ukraine continued to violate the ceasefire in the MH17 crash area, not allowing OSCE observers and experts from the Netherlands and Australia to enter the area," said Sergei Kavtaradze, an aide to top rebel leader Aleksander Borodai.
"We hope Ukrainians will adhere to the decisions of the U.N., allow observers and experts to reach the crash site and facilitate security of the place," he said.