World

Ukraine separatists say 24 of their fighters killed in rocket attack on Donetsk airport

  • CORRECT SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO TAMAZ  Georgian men carry a casket with the body of Tamaz Sukhiashvili, a Georgian national who was killed in fighting against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, during a funeral ceremony in Tbilisi, Georgia, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

    CORRECT SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO TAMAZ Georgian men carry a casket with the body of Tamaz Sukhiashvili, a Georgian national who was killed in fighting against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, during a funeral ceremony in Tbilisi, Georgia, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)  (The Associated Press)

  • Passengers killed when a trolley bus was damaged by a mortar shell are seen inside a bus in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. A new peace initiative for Ukraine began taking shape as mortar shells rained down Thursday on the center of the main rebel-held city in the east, killing at least 13 people at a bus stop. The civilian death toll has been mounting steadily in the conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists that the United Nations says has killed more than 4,700 people since April. (AP Photo/Igor Ivanov)

    Passengers killed when a trolley bus was damaged by a mortar shell are seen inside a bus in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. A new peace initiative for Ukraine began taking shape as mortar shells rained down Thursday on the center of the main rebel-held city in the east, killing at least 13 people at a bus stop. The civilian death toll has been mounting steadily in the conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists that the United Nations says has killed more than 4,700 people since April. (AP Photo/Igor Ivanov)  (The Associated Press)

  • Passengers killed when a trolley bus was damaged by a mortar shell are seen in interior of the bus  and outside, left, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. A new peace initiative for Ukraine began taking shape as mortar shells rained down Thursday on the center of the main rebel-held city in the east, killing at least 13 people at a bus stop. The civilian death toll has been mounting steadily in the conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists that the United Nations says has killed more than 4,700 people since April. (AP Photo/Igor Ivanov)

    Passengers killed when a trolley bus was damaged by a mortar shell are seen in interior of the bus and outside, left, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. A new peace initiative for Ukraine began taking shape as mortar shells rained down Thursday on the center of the main rebel-held city in the east, killing at least 13 people at a bus stop. The civilian death toll has been mounting steadily in the conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists that the United Nations says has killed more than 4,700 people since April. (AP Photo/Igor Ivanov)  (The Associated Press)

Russian-backed separatists in east Ukraine say 24 of their fighters have been killed in a rocket attack on the recently captured airport outside their main stronghold city of Donetsk.

Rebel defense spokesman Eduard Basurin said the terminal was targeted by Ukrainian government forces Friday with Uragan multiple rocket launchers.

The separatist seizure ofthe virtually obliterated airport this week after months of bitter battles was a major blow for beleaguered Ukrainian offensives in the east.

Diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met this week to thrash out a tentative dividing line from which the warring sides would pull back their heavy weapons.

Separatists have warned, however, that they intend to continue their advances and take more territory.