KIEV, Ukraine, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- As the military prepares to advance further into restive eastern Ukraine, a military spokesman urged residents of Donetsk and Lunhansk to evacuate.
"The anti-terrorist operation will continue. Peaceful residents should leave the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk just before these are freed."
Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council, explained Monday that the objective of the continuing anti-terror operation is to prevent Russian-backed rebels from re-grouping and re-arming with Russian hardware and weaponry.
By noon on Monday, the Donetsk mayor's office reported gunfire and periodic explosions in Kirovsky and Leninsky districts. There were also wide-spread power outages.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has displaced tens of thousands of residents. Social Policy Minister Liudmyla Denisova reported Monday approximately 83,000 internally displaced persons have been registered in Ukraine. The majority are from Donetsk and Luhansk, while 15,000 were displaced from Russian-seized Crimea.