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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.


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.


Virgin Atlantic to stop flying over Iraq

Virgin Atlantic has joined other airlines in deciding not to fly over Iraq due to safety concerns.

Fears that insurgents could fire rockets at passenger planes have been heightened by the recent downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine.

Virgin Atlantic says it will not fly over Iraq due to safety concerns. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

However some airlines, including British Airways, are continuing to fly over Iraq and have stressed the need for clear guidelines on which routes are safe to fly.

Virgin's decision follows a decisions from aviation chiefs to set up a new task force to ensure information affecting airline safety is effectively collected and distributed.

Top level task force to look at threat to passenger planes

A "senior level" international task force has been set up by world aviation chiefs to tackle the threat to passenger planes from ground-based weaponry following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Top level task force to look at threat to passenger planes Credit: PA

Now a top-level safety conference involving more than 190 nations is to take place under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The ICAO's secretary general Raymond Benjamin said that while aviation was still a safe form of travel, Mr Benjamin said that the MH17 disaster had "raised troubling concerns" in respect of civilian aircraft.

He said the task force would be composed of state and aviation industry experts who would see how intelligence regarding the safety of planes could be effectively gathered and passed on to all those affected.

PM was 'very humble' in meeting with MH17 families

Prime Minister David Cameron was "very humble" when he met the families of victims of the MH17 air disaster, according to one of the parents who attended the meeting.

Barry Sweeney, whose son was aboard MH17. Credit: ITV News

Barry Sweeney said: "I've got to say Mr Cameron was very humble. He answered every question that was asked of him. He brought a few experts in to talk about crash sites and how the airplane might have come down."

The Newcastle native attended the hour-long meeting with his wife Angela and seven of the 10 families of British victims. His son Liam died alongside his friend John Alder.

The 52-year-old who spoke earlier with ITV News,said: "We basically asked Mr Cameron just to help. The talking I suppose has got to stop and the doing has got to be done."

He added: "I feel very angry and frustrated. It would be nice if they could just stop fighting for a little bit so that we could get all our boys and girls home."

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