In early January, the DNR had launched a winter offensive on Ukrainian positions, seizing the Donetsk airport and attacking Ukrainian checkpoints across the line of control separating the two sides. Once the airport had fallen, the DNR focused its attention on Debaltseve, surrounding the town on three sides and pounding it with artillery for four straight weeks. The attack killed dozens and forced thousands of residents to flee.
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After a month of heavy fighting, the pro-Russia separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) finally took the strategically important rail hub town of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine.