"Now our military are returning to the positions on the demarcation line that were fixed by the Minsk agreements," the spokesman of the government’s Anti-Terrorist Operation press center, Andriy Lysenko, said at a briefing in the Ukainian capital.

 He said the counter-offensive operation is carried out by the Azov volunteer battalion. He said the operation would prevent any further shelling of Mariupol by the Russian-backed militants.

Around 30 civilians were killed and over 100 wounded when Mariupol was attacked with rockets on January 24.

The OSCE said the rockets had been fired from militant-held areas to the north-east and east of the city.