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  • MH17    July 27 
MH17 crash investigators turn back amid heavy fighting in Ukraine
Rob Stothard / Getty Images
Rob Stothard / Getty Images

International investigators abandoned their mission to visit the MH17 crash site on Sunday due to intense fighting in the area between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.

"The situation on the ground appears to be unsafe," Alexander Hug, deputy head of the European monitoring group said. "We therefore decided to deploy tomorrow morning."

Separatists have controlled the crash site since the plane went down on July 17, making it difficult for international observers to independently examine the wreckage. Malaysia previously said it had reached a deal with the rebels to grant investigators full access. But with Kiev actively pushing the separatists from their former strongholds in eastern Ukraine — near where the plane crashed — the Dutch experts determined the area was too dangerous for them to proceed.

Ukraine and the U.S. have accused the separatists of downing the plane, likely after mistaking it for a Ukrainian military craft. Russia has countered that perhaps Ukraine downed the jet to win international sympathy.

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