JNN 24 July 2014 Kiev : Ukraine says pro-Russia forces have shot down two of Kiev’s jet fighters in the country’s restive east, where government forces are holding military operations against the pro-Russians.
Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said two Sukhoi Su-25 Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down on Wednesday.
Pro-Russia forces confirmed in a video posted online the downing of the two Ukrainian jets. The uploaded video allegedly shows the aftermath and wreckage of one of the destroyed planes.
This is while Ukrainian representatives provided contradictory information on where the jets were downed.
Dmytrashkivsky said the jets were downed some 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the crash site of the Malaysian flight MH17 and the fate of the two pilots was unknown.
However, another Ukrainian military spokesman said the aircraft had been hit south of the Lugansk region and that the two pilots had managed to parachute out.
The downing of the two jets comes just days after MH17 was reportedly shot down over Ukraine’s volatile Donetsk region while en route from the Dutch city of Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All the 298 passengers and crew on board were killed.
Ukraine and Western powers accuse pro-Russia forces of downing the passenger plane by firing a surface-to-air missile at the aircraft.
Pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine have denied the accusation and blamed Kiev for shooting down the plane. Some witnesses say they saw the passenger plane being attacked by a Ukrainian army plane.
Ukraine launched military operations in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in mid-April to crush the pro-Russia protests there.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the ongoing military campaign in the country. Tens of thousands have been forced to escape to Russia, while over 4.5 million people remain in the conflict zone, according to a UN report.
INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS Declares Ukrainian Uprising as Civil War
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has officially described the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a civil war, urging the government and pro-Russian protesters to respect the laws of conflict.
“Fighting in eastern Ukraine continues to take its toll on civilians, and we urge all sides to comply with international humanitarian law, otherwise known as the law of armed conflict,” ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart said in a statement on Wednesday.
The ICRC said that the warring parties could be tried for war crimes.
“These rules and principles apply to all parties to the non-international armed conflict in Ukraine, and impose restrictions on the means and methods of warfare that they may use,” the statement added.
Stillhart was expected to arrive in Ukraine for talks with the country’s officials about the ongoing war.
He will also discuss the ongoing operation of collecting the bodies of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
“The ICRC is prepared to facilitate the movements and activities of the specialists until their work is complete and the remains of all victims have been recovered and identified,” the statement said.
Flight MH17 was reportedly shot down on July 17 over Ukraine’s volatile Donetsk region while en route from the Dutch city of Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All of the 298 passengers and crew on board were killed.
Pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine have accused Kiev of shooting down the plane. Some witnesses say they saw the passenger plane being attacked by a Ukrainian army plane. However, Kiev blames the pro-Russians for the crash.
The bodies of 40 victims were transferred to the Netherlands on Wednesday for forensic analysis.
Earlier this week, Aleksander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, handed the black boxes over to Malaysian authorities.