US denies report that American troops killed in eastern Ukraine

3 soldiers killed in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Russian newspaper reports; US calls fake news.

US denies report that American troops killed in eastern Ukraine

The US on Friday denied a "false news" report that said three American troops were killed in eastern Ukraine.

"There is wide reporting that there were three U.S. soldiers who were killed in Donbas, which is patently false and a deliberate fabrication. There are no US soldiers in Ukraine," State Department principal deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said at a briefing.

"The imagery used is – on this false reporting is from 2018, and those depicted in the picture returned safely to their home the next year in 2019. They are accounted for, safe, and not, as the article erroneously states, US mercenaries killed in Donetsk," said Porter.

Russian newspaper, Pravda, reported Thursday that three US "mercenaries" were killed in the Donetsk region, which along with Luhansk, declared independence from Ukraine in late February.

Their independence and ensuing recognition by Russia were followed by a military attack on Ukraine.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial restrictions on Moscow and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.

At least 816 civilians have been killed and 1,333 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, the UN said, while noting the figure is probably higher.

More than 3.27 million people have fled to neighboring countries, said the UN refugee agency.