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Family 'happy and relieved' after MH17 victim identified

The family of MH17 victim Liam Sweeney - one of two Newcastle United fans killed in last month's plane crash - have said they are "happy and relieved to be getting (him) home" after his body was identified.

Liam Sweeney, 28, died along with fellow Newcastle fan John Alder on the Malaysian Airlines flight on 17 July.

Tributes were paid to Liam Sweeney and John Alder, who were travelling across the world to see their team play during a pre-season tour of New Zealand.

Liam Sweeney's father Barry later called for the bodies of his son and the other victims to be returned to their families in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Today's statement from the family read:

We are happy and relieved to be getting Liam home and hope that we can now move forward.

Our thoughts are with John Alder's family and the families of the other 296 victims.

We would ask that we are given some time and privacy to grieve as a family.

– Sweeney family statement

Touching memorial service for MH17 victims

The anguish of a mother and father whose three children died when Malaysia Airline flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine was laid bare at an emotional memorial service in Australia.

A thousand people attended the service at Perth in Australia, to hear the children's parents speak of their loss.

ITV News reporter Ria Chatterjee reports.

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MH17 children's last message before they died

This video is now their parent's most cherished possession but at the time it was filmed no one could predict what would happen.

Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin, aged 12, 10, and eight, all died on flight MH17 along with their grandfather Nick on July 17.

In what is now their last message, the happy and smiling youngsters ride their bikes and swing on a roundabout telling their auntie they will see her next year.

The video was played at a memorial service for them in Australia earlier today.

Ukrainian forces killed in fighting near MH17 site

Smoke rises above a damaged multi-storey block of flats following what locals say was shelling by Ukrainian forces in Shakhtarsk on 28 July. Credit: Reuters

Pro-Russian separatists killed at least 10 Ukrainian paratroopers in an overnight ambush in the region of east Ukraine where a Malaysian airliner was brought down, government forces have said.

The rebels said they had "captured good trophies" and pushed back government forces around the town of Shakhtarsk, where Kiev said a paratrooper unit moving from one base to another had come under mortar and tank fire.

Shakhtarsk is close to the rolling fields where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came down on, and fighting has raged around it for several days as the Ukrainian army tries to quell the separatist rebellion.

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Russia and Ukraine: To keep crash site route open

Russian and Ukrainian envoys have agreed to keep open a route that was used by international experts to reach the MH17 crash site, according to a senior Ukrainian government official.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groisman told a briefing in Kiev that the agreement was reached during talks in Minsk, Belarus.

More: Experts reach MH17 crash site for first time in a week

Experts pay their respects at MH17 crash site

Two weeks since the MH17 Malaysia Airlines plane was downed, members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission took a moment of silence to remember the victims.

The team of four experts from the Netherlands and Australia reached the crash site for the first time in almost a week after using a new route earlier today.

Experts reach MH17 crash site for first time in a week

International monitors say they have reached the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 for the first time in almost a week.

According to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, a new access route has been used to take the team and four experts from the Netherlands and Australia.

Experts 'to be allowed access to MH17 crash site'

Russian experts aim to visit the Malaysian airliner crash site in east Ukraine on Thursday to examine the debris together with international investigators, Interfax news agency reports, citing Russia's civil aviation authority.

"Russian experts intend to meet the head of the investigative commission ... and handover all the materials that the chairman of the commission had previously asked for," Interfax quoted a statement from the Federal Air Transport Agency.

"Today, the Russian representatives will also try to reach the crash area of the Boeing-777 and together with specialists from the international investigative commission examine the state of parts of the aircraft at the site," it added.

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