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Several Ukrainian civilians, including a child, were killed in Russian shelling and air strikes, regional officials and the military said, as Kyiv’s forces reportedly made further territorial gains in the south amid heavy fighting on the entire front line.

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The death toll in a Russian missile strike early on July 31 on a high-rise apartment building in the southern city of Kryviy Rih has increased to at least four, the Ukrainian emergency service said.

Regional Governor Serhiy Lysak said that a 10-year-old child was among the dead, while Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the Kryviy Rih Defense Council, said on Telegram at noon local time that eight more people might be under the rubble.

Russian shells also struck the southern city of Kherson for a second time in less than 24 hours on July 31, killing a 65-year-old man in his car, regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported on Telegram.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the eastern region of Donetsk, said on July 31 that two civilians were killed by Russian shelling late on July 30.

Local authorities in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy reported on July 30 that two civilians had been killed and at least 17 injured in a Russian rocket attack.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces have been engaged in heavy fighting along the entire frontline, repelling Russian assaults in the northeast and making some advances in the south, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian troops fought more than 20 close-combat battles over the past 24 hours, the General Staff of Ukraine’s military said in its morning report on July 31, adding that Russian air strikes and shelling had continued to take a toll on the civilian population and infrastructure.

“As a result of the Russian attacks, unfortunately, there are dead and wounded among the civilian population, and residential buildings were destroyed,” the military said.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, meanwhile, reported advances in the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southern region of Zaporizhzhya.

“We are gradually but surely moving [ahead] in the Berdyansk and Melitopol directions,” Malyar said on Telegram, adding, “Fighting continues in all directions of the counteroffensive.”

Malyar said that since the start of their counteroffensive in May, Ukrainian forces had liberated almost 205 square kilometers — out of which almost 13 square kilometers were recaptured during the past week.

In the northeast, Russian forces continued their attacks on Ukrainian-held Kupyansk and Lyman, “but failed and suffered losses,” Malyar said.

Ukrainian and Russian forces continued heavy artillery exchanges in the Bakhmut area of Donetsk, where fierce fighting has been under way for months, with Malyar saying that Moscow is pouring additional troops into the area.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said that Ukraine is to open discussions with Washington in the coming days on “firm” security guarantees for Kyiv that would ensure the country’s ability to protect itself until it becomes a member of NATO.

“Ukraine will begin negotiations with the United States on a bilateral agreement on security guarantees next week,” Yermak wrote on Telegram late on July 30.

“These guarantees will be valid until Ukraine acquires NATO membership, which is the most reliable guarantee of security. As long as there is a war in our country and we cannot join NATO, our state must secure reliable guarantees for the transition period,” he wrote.

Yermak also said a Ukrainian-organized meeting will soon be held in Saudi Arabia to discuss Zelenskiy’s peace plan, which is based on the departure of all Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

Zelenskiy on July 30 warned that it is was “inevitable” that “war” would come to Russia after authorities there were forced to temporarily close a busy Moscow airport following an overnight drone attack on the capital.

“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia — to its symbolic centers and military bases. And this is an inevitable, natural, and absolutely fair process,” Zelenskiy said on July 30 during a visit to the city of Ivano-Frankivsk — which, although in western Ukraine, has been hit by Russian missile fire in the past.

Russian officials said three Ukrainian drones attacked Moscow early on July 30, injuring a security guard and forcing the temporary suspension of traffic at Vnukovo airport, one of four major facilities serving the capital.

Russia’s Defense Ministry called it an “attempted terrorist attack” and claimed that one drone had been shot down and two others jammed, leading them to crash into Moscow’s prestigious Moskva-Citi business complex.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

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