This report is for the media and general public
At approximately 12:40hrs on 26 July, an SMM patrol comprised of two vehicles was caught in mortar and automatic grenade launcher fire while trying to cross the contact line from the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled side of Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) to the government-controlled side. This crossing had been agreed and co-ordinated beforehand with both the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the “LPR”.
The SMM had arrived at 12:00hrs at the last “LPR” checkpoint (2km south of the line of contact) before the Shchastia bridge and had been told by the “LPR” to park their vehicles in cover; according to the “LPR”, “LPR” members who had been removing mine obstacles to allow the SMM through had come under machine-gun and sniper fire at 11:30hrs. At approximately 12:40hrs, the checkpoint and surrounding area came under sustained mortar (assessed to be 82mm) and automatic grenade launcher fire from the north.
The SMM members took cover in the trenches at the “LPR” checkpoint and remained there for approximately 90 minutes. During this time, there was continuous incoming mortar shelling (30-40 rounds) and automatic grenade launcher fire that impacted near the SMM’s position (50-100m). The SMM observed at least one mortar round strike within 40m of a bus carrying civilians from Obozne (“LPR”-controlled, 18km north of Luhansk) towards Luhansk city. In the meantime, other SMM members contacted the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination for a cessation of fire. At 14:20 the shelling ceased and the SMM considered it is sufficiently safe to leave the place shortly after. There were no injuries to SMM members or damages to SMM vehicles. All SMM members returned safely to their base in “LPR”-controlled Luhansk city around 15:00hrs.