Grandeur to rubble: Inside Donetsk International Airport

The remains of a terminal building at Donstesk International Airport. Credit: ITV News

WARNING: This report contains graphic images from the start, which viewers may find upsetting.

The battle-scarred airport at Donetsk is a symbol of how far Ukraine has fallen and of the bitter conflict that brought about that fall.

Extensively rebuilt ahead of the 2012 UEFA European Championships, the airport was a showpiece of Ukraine's progress and closer relations with Europe.

Today, what remains of the the rubble-strewn runways and terminal buildings is guarded by pro-Russian rebels after months of intense fighting with the Ukrainian army.

ITV News' Senior International Correspondent John Irvine gained rare access to the airport building, as part of his latest coverage of the civil war.

Donetsk International Airport was rebuilt ahead of the Euro 2012 tournament, with a brand new terminal welcoming football fans from many of Europe's largest capitals, including London.

A general view of Donetsk International Airport in February 2013. Credit: Marius Becker/dpa

Today it lies in ruins: its windows missing, roof partially collapsed and runways strewn with rubble and the crumpled remains of Ukrainian tanks.

The remains of a Russian tank lie where aeroplanes should be. Credit: ITV News

Despite the extensive damage, the airport remains a key symbolic target for both sides after rebel fighters took control earlier this month.

The bodies of a dozen Ukrainian soldiers lie inside one of the airport's buildings; others are said to lie beneath the rubble.

Inside an terminal building at Donetsk International Airport. Credit: Ken Perry/ITV News

Meanwhile, the city of Donetsk continues to be shelled by both rebel and Ukrainian forces, with both sides accusing the other of firing indiscriminately.

A rebel marksman guards the airport building. Credit: Ken Perry/ITV News

The latest civilians killed in the conflict were sheltering inside a hospital when a shell landed just feet from the front door earlier today.

Ukraine's prosecutor's office said that up to 10 people were killed in the shelling, and blamed rebel forces.