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Rebels claim to control Donetsk airport after intense fight; no confirmation from Kiev

  • A woman walks through a residential area hit by the Ukrainian Army Artillery in Voroshilovsky area, center of Donetsk, Ukraine. Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The separatist stronghold, Donetsk, was shaken by intense outgoing and incoming artillery fire as a bitter battle raged for control over the city's airport. Streets in the city, which was home to 1 million people before unrest erupted in spring, were completely deserted and the windows of apartments in the center rattled from incessant rocket and mortar fire. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

    A woman walks through a residential area hit by the Ukrainian Army Artillery in Voroshilovsky area, center of Donetsk, Ukraine. Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The separatist stronghold, Donetsk, was shaken by intense outgoing and incoming artillery fire as a bitter battle raged for control over the city's airport. Streets in the city, which was home to 1 million people before unrest erupted in spring, were completely deserted and the windows of apartments in the center rattled from incessant rocket and mortar fire. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Ukrainian woman embraces her dog in a shelter during the heaviest exchange of artillery fire in the last few days, at Voroshilovsky area, center of Donetsk, Ukraine. Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The separatist stronghold, Donetsk, was shaken by intense outgoing and incoming artillery fire as a bitter battle raged for control over the city's airport. Streets in the city, which was home to 1 million people before unrest erupted in spring, were completely deserted and the windows of apartments in the center rattled from incessant rocket and mortar fire. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

    A Ukrainian woman embraces her dog in a shelter during the heaviest exchange of artillery fire in the last few days, at Voroshilovsky area, center of Donetsk, Ukraine. Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The separatist stronghold, Donetsk, was shaken by intense outgoing and incoming artillery fire as a bitter battle raged for control over the city's airport. Streets in the city, which was home to 1 million people before unrest erupted in spring, were completely deserted and the windows of apartments in the center rattled from incessant rocket and mortar fire. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)  (The Associated Press)

  • Blood from a DNR soldier killed at the airport is seen at the gate of the morgue of Kalinisky Hospital, center of Donetsk, Ukraine. Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The separatist stronghold, Donetsk, was shaken by intense outgoing and incoming artillery fire as a bitter battle raged for control over the city's airport. Streets in the city, which was home to 1 million people before unrest erupted in spring, were completely deserted and the windows of apartments in the center rattled from incessant rocket and mortar fire. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

    Blood from a DNR soldier killed at the airport is seen at the gate of the morgue of Kalinisky Hospital, center of Donetsk, Ukraine. Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. The separatist stronghold, Donetsk, was shaken by intense outgoing and incoming artillery fire as a bitter battle raged for control over the city's airport. Streets in the city, which was home to 1 million people before unrest erupted in spring, were completely deserted and the windows of apartments in the center rattled from incessant rocket and mortar fire. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)  (The Associated Press)

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine are claiming that they have seized control of the Donetsk airport after days of intense fighting. Ukrainian officials have not confirmed a retreat.

Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko said at a press conference early Monday in Donetsk that the rebels had taken control of the airport.

The separatist stronghold was shaken by intense outgoing and incoming artillery fire over the weekend as a bitter battle raged for the air terminal and surrounding areas. Sporadic explosions could still be heard from the direction of the airport early Monday.

The U.N. estimates that more than 4,700 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since April.