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Published: Thursday July 31, 2014 MYT 7:10:02 PM
Updated: Thursday July 31, 2014 MYT 7:11:09 PM

Ukraine says suspends attacks to let experts reach crash site, rebels deny

KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukraine said on Thursday it had suspended offensive operations in its military campaign in east Ukraine to help international experts reach the downed Malaysian airliner's crash site but separatists were continuing to attack its positions.

Kiev said on the Facebook website of what it calls its "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO) against pro-Russian rebels in the east that it was heeding calls by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stop fighting near the plane crash site.

"On July 31, troops involved in the active ATO phase are not conducting military operations apart from protecting their own positions from attack," it said. "But mercenary fighters of the Russian terrorists are not respecting any international agreements and requests."

The rebels have accused Kiev of blocking access to the Malaysian MH17 flight crash site by fighting in the area.

"Ukraine continued to violate the ceasefire in the MH17 crash area, not allowing OSCE observers and experts from the Netherlands and Australia to enter the area," said Sergei Kavtaradze, an aide to top rebel leader Aleksander Borodai.

"We hope Ukrainians will adhere to the decisions of the U.N., allow observers and experts to reach the crash site and facilitate security of the place," he said.

(Reporting by Timothy Heritage in Kiev and Aleksandar Vasovic in Donetsk; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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