Ukraine says it has recaptured second village as counter-offensive nears Bakhmut

Soldiers pose with the Ukrainian and unit flags in front of a church in the village of Klishchiivka, Donetsk Oblast, on Sunday after recapturing it from Russian forces. Photo courtesy Andriy Yermak/Telegram

Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Ukraine's military claimed it has recaptured the village of Klishchiivka in Donetsk Oblast, the latest of a series of advances in and around the eastern city of Bakhmut chalked up by its summer counteroffensive.

The 5th Separate Assault Brigade, the 80th Air Assault Brigade and the Liut "Fury" National Police Assault Brigade led the operation Sunday after months of heavy fighting to drive out Russian forces which captured the settlement in January, General Oleksandr Syrskyi wrote on Telegram.

Ukrainian soldiers with the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, also conducting operations in the vicinity, had reported their advance on Klishchiivka, 5.5 miles south of Bakhmut, was extremely difficult due to dense minefields and continual bombardment from Russian artillery.

President Volodymyr Zelensky lauded the military's efforts on social media.

"I thank our warriors for liberating our land. The 80th Air Assault, 5th Assault, and the renowned 95th Air Assault brigades, as well as the National Police's "Fury" Assault Brigade," he said in a post on Twitter.

"I thank everyone who is standing strong from Kupiansk to the left bank of Kherson!"

Ukraine forces went on the offensive in the east in May, ahead of the main counteroffensive at the front line in the south of the country.

Ukrainian forces were digging in at their newly established front line following the capture Friday of another village nearby,

Sunday's victory, which brings the push northwards and the frontline in the east a step closer to Bakhmut, follows the recapture Friday of the village of Andriivka, less than 2 miles to the south of Klishchiivka.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces claimed to have inflicted heavy losses of manpower and equipment on Russian forces in the battle for the village and in fighting off attacks on the Lastochkino and Avdiyvka districts of the region.

The Ukrainian military said it was liberating the temporarily occupied territories step by step and consolidating "at the achieved borders."