Ukraine, rebels agree to pull back troops, weapons

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Representatives of Ukraine and separatist rebels have agreed to pull back troops and weapons from several areas in eastern Ukraine.

Darka Olifer, spokeswoman for ex-President Leonid Kuchma representing Ukraine in the so-called Contact Group, said in a Facebook post that Wednesday's agreement signed in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, applies to three specific areas and will be monitored by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist rebels and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 9,600 people since it erupted in April 2014, according to the United Nations. The February 2015 Minsk agreement, which was brokered by France and Germany, helped end large-scale battles, but smaller clashes have continued to claim lives and a political settlement has stalled.