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Fighting outside rebel-held Ukrainian city kills 9 government troops

  • Ukraine-1.jpg

    People carry a stretcher with a dead man after shelling by the Ukrainian forces in Makiivka, 25 km (16 miles) from Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Government troops on Tuesday pressed attacks in the two largest cities held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, as Kiev also pursued diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict that has killed more than 2,000. (AP Photo/Antoine E.R. Delaunay) (The Associated Press)

  • Russia Ukraine-2.jpg

    A Russian military truck carries a MSTA-S self-propelled howitzer about 10 kilometers from the Russia-Ukrainian border control point at town Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Ukrainian government troops were fighting pro-Russian rebels in the streets of Luhansk on Tuesday and captured most of a town near the eastern city of Donetsk, tightening the noose around that key rebel-held stronghold, Ukrainian officials said. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) (The Associated Press)

A Ukrainian official says nine troops were killed in overnight fighting in the streets of the town of Ilovaysk, which lies just east of the rebel stronghold Donetsk.

Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said in a Facebook post Wednesday morning that government troops now control half of the town, but rebels are offering fierce resistance after more than a day of fighting.

Government efforts to quell the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine are focused on encircling Donetsk and also driving rebels out of the city of Luhansk.

The Kiev government also has pursued diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced 300,000.

The Ukrainian president hosts the German chancellor this weekend before meeting next week with Russia's president.