Ukraine: fighting continues to strike the most vulnerable

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Ukraine: fighting continues to strike the most vulnerablePope Francis' appeal for mediation seemed more urgent Sunday as Moscow continued its advance in eastern Ukraine while Ukraine buried a child with Down Syndrome who came to symbolize the horrors of war.

Moscow said Russian forces shot down a Ukrainian MI-17 helicopter near the eastern town of Sloviansk and a SU-25 aircraft in the Kharkiv region.

Russia's ministry of defense also said Russian missiles destroyed a depot in the port city of Odesa that stores Harpoon anti-ship missiles given to Ukraine by NATO military alliance countries.

However, there was no independent verification of these claims. And British defense officials claim Russia has also suffered military setbacks, with some 50,000 troops killed or injured since the Russian invasion began in February.

At the same time, Ukraine was struck by another tragedy Sunday: All eight crew on board a cargo aircraft transporting munitions that crashed and exploded in a ball of flames in northern Greece were Ukrainian. All eight were killed.

The plane was carrying 11.5 tonnes of military products, including illuminating mortar shells and training shells, from Serbia to a buyer in Bangladesh.

Elsewhere authorities said that after nearly 38 hours, 90 firefighters extinguished the blaze at an industrial space enterprise in the eastern city of Dnipro after Russian missiles hit it on Friday.

Civilian victims

At least three people were reportedly killed and 16 injured in the missile strike, but officials said they were still searching for a man reported missing during the attack.

It wasn't the only bloodshed remembered Sunday:

Authorities confirmed that Liza Dmytriyeva, a 4-year-old with Down syndrome, was among at least 23 people killed in a Russian missile strike on the historic city of Vinnytsya in central Ukraine this weekend.

"Sunny Flower," as locals called the toddler, proudly pushed her baby carriage through a Ukraine park with her mother next to her.

She had just returned from the nearby speech therapy center, where she learned her first words. She liked to clean the corridor and helped to organize the toys there. She always seemed happy till a rocket took her life.

Liza's funeral was Sunday.

Stefan J. Bos
Source: vaticannews.va