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Russia-Ukraine War: Ukraine’s remaining soldiers in Mariupol and some civilians have been holed up in the tunnels of the huge Azovstal factory, besieged by Russian forces for weeks.

Kyiv: 

Almost 500 civilians have been evacuated from the battered city of Mariupol and its besieged Azovstal steel plant since a UN-led rescue operation began, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office said Friday.

“We have managed to evacuate almost 500 civilians,” Andriy Yermak said on Telegram. He said Kyiv will “do everything to save all its civilians and military” stuck in the devastated city, adding that the evacuations would continue.

In a separate Telegram post, Yermak said “another stage of rescuing our people in Azovstal continues”.

He said Ukraine will “give the results of this later.”

Ukraine’s remaining soldiers in Mariupol and some civilians have been holed up in the tunnels of the huge Azovstal factory, besieged by Russian forces for weeks.

UN and Red Cross-led evacuations began last weekend.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told AFP that evacuations Friday would focus on those still stuck inside the plant.

“Today we will concentrate precisely on Azovstal,” she told AFP by phone.

“The operation is starting. We are praying for its success.”

On Thursday a commander of Ukraine’s Azov battalion, that has led the fight to defend Mariupol, pleaded for the evacuation of the remaining civilians in the plant and for help for “dying” wounded soldiers.

 

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