KIEV, Ukraine A Ukrainian security spokesman says government forces advanced to the outskirts of a key town in an effort to go after pro-Russian separatists in one of their main strongholds.
National security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Ukrainian forces were outside Horlikva north of the main regional center of Donetsk.
Lysenko said at a briefing Saturday that after taking Horlivka, "the direct route is open for the forces of the anti-terrorist operation to the capital of the Donbass region - the city of Donetsk."
Donetsk, a city of about 1 million people, is a major center of the separatist uprising that has battled Ukrainian government forces for five months.
An Associated Press reporter found the highway north of Donetsk blocked by rebels and heard the sound of artillery to the north.