Ukraine, rebels reach preliminary deal to broaden weapons withdrawal

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Ukraine, Rebels Reach Deal to Broaden Weapons Withdrawal


Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists have reached a preliminary agreement to extend a pull-back of weapons in east Ukraine to include tanks and smaller weapons systems, the chairman of the OSCE security watchdog, Ivica Dacic, said on Tuesday.

Under a ceasefire agreement brokered in Minsk, Belarus, in February, weapons of over 100 mm caliber are meant to have already been withdrawn, but both sides accuse the other of continuing to use heavy artillery and casualties are reported almost daily.

The latest agreement on lighter weapons was reached at a meeting of the so-called "contact group" involving Ukraine, Russia and the separatists under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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Ukraine, rebels reach preliminary deal to broaden weapons withdrawal
Pro-Russian separatists take part in a military competition between tank units near the town of Torez, in the Donetsk region, on September 24, 2015. Ukraine's pro-Moscow insurgents showed off their military prowess on Thursday by launching exercises involving heavy tanks that Kiev claims they had covertly received from Russia. The self-proclaimed 'tank biathlon' mirrored manoeuvres that Russia has been staging with its former Soviet allies in recent years. AFP PHOTO / ALEKSEY FILIPPOV (Photo credit should read ALEKSEY FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian separatist military cadets attend a military competition between tank units near the town of Torez, in the Donetsk region, on September 24, 2015. Ukraine's pro-Moscow insurgents showed off their military prowess on Thursday by launching exercises involving heavy tanks that Kiev claims they had covertly received from Russia. The self-proclaimed 'tank biathlon' mirrored manoeuvres that Russia has been staging with its former Soviet allies in recent years. AFP PHOTO / ALEKSEY FILIPPOV (Photo credit should read ALEKSEY FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A Ukrainian soldier of 95th airborne brigade guards a position at the frontline near Avdiivka, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, July 19, 2015. Ukraine’s separatist rebels say they have begun pulling back military vehicles armed with small-caliber weapons from most of the front line in the war with Ukrainian forces. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Members of the Right Sector group march down the street during a rally in the center Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. The radical Right Sector group was one of the most militant factions in the massive protests in Ukraine's capital that prompted pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country in February 2014. Since war broke out in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russia separatists several months later, the Right Sector has fought on the government side. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Members of the Right Sector group rest prior their rally in the center Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. The radical Right Sector group was one of the most militant factions in the massive protests in Ukraine's capital that prompted pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country in February 2014. Since war broke out in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russia separatists several months later, the Right Sector has fought on the government side. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Activists and supporters of far-right Ukrainian party Right Sector participate in a rally on Independence Square in Kiev on July 21, 2015 after the party's extraordinary congress. Several thousand protesters gathered to support the party's decision to start collecting signatures for a referendum calling for for the resignation of President Petro Poroshenko and his government. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Activists and supporters of far-right Ukrainian party Right Sector participate in a rally on Independence Square in Kiev on July 21, 2015 after the party's extraordinary congress. Several thousand protesters gathered to support the party's decision to start collecting signatures for a referendum calling for for the resignation of President Petro Poroshenko and his government. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighters take a nap in their room at their headquarter in a small village near Pokrovskoe on June 3, 2015. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of Eastern Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighter, aged 70, poses for a pictures while he makes exercizes at their headquarter in a village near Pokrovskoe on June 3, 2015. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of the East of Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighters get ready at their headquarter in a small village near Pokrovskoe, eastern Ukraine on June 3, 2015 before going to the frontline in Eastern Ukraine. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of the East of Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighters train at their headquarter in a small village near Pokrovskoe, eastern Ukraine on June 3, 2015. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of the East of Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighters take a rest at their headquarter in a small village near Pokrovskoe, eastern Ukraine on June 3, 2015. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of the East of Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighter trains at their headquarter in a small village near Pokrovskoe, eastern Ukraine on June 3, 2015. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of the East of Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighters train at their headquarter in a small village near Pokrovskoe, eastern Ukraine on June 3, 2015. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of the East of Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) fighters train at their headquarter in a small village near Pokrovskoe, eastern Ukraine on June 3, 2015. Right Sector is a paramilitary group that fights with the governmental army against separatists for the control of the East of Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / FABIO BUCCIARELLI (Photo credit should read FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Speaking in Minsk, Dacic said the deal still needed to be signed, but urged all sides to "completely cease attacking and respect a full ceasefire".

Earlier, separatists said a civilian and a rebel fighter had been killed in shelling by Ukrainian forces in the past 24 hours, while Ukraine's military reported a serviceman had been killed in rebel attacks.

More than 6,500 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine in April last year.

(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alison Williams)

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