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Fighting blocks evacuation attempts at Mariupol steel works, fighter says – Metro US

Fighting blocks evacuation attempts at Mariupol steel works, fighter says

An aerial view shows shelling in the Azovstal steel plant
An aerial view shows shelling in the Azovstal steel plant complex, in Mariupol

KYIV (Reuters) – A Ukrainian fighter holed up in a vast steel works in the southern city of Mariupol accused Russian forces of breaking a promise to allow a ceasefire on Thursday so that civilians could be evacuated.

Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, posted a video online which purported to be shot in the Azovstal steel works where Mariupol’s last defenders are holding out with an estimated 200 civilians.

Reuters was unable immediately to verify where Palamar was speaking.

“It is the third day that the enemy has entered the Azovstal steel plant. Heavy, bloody fighting is going on,” Palamar said.

“Yet again, the Russians have not kept the promise of a ceasefire and have not given an opportunity for the civilians who seek shelter … in basements of the plant to evacuate.”

He appealed to the international community for help in evacuating civilians and urged President Volodymr Zelenskiy to do all he could to evacuate wounded fighters.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also said fighting had continued in the steel works but gave no details.

Russia’s military did not immediately comment. It said on Wednesday it would open humanitarian corridors from the steel plant on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to allow civilians to leave.

In an online post, the Russian military said the corridors would be open from 0800 to 1800 Moscow time (0500 to 1500 GMT) each day. During this period Russian forces would cease any military activity and withdraw units to a safe distance, it said.

Moscow declared victory over Mariupol on April 21 afterweeks of siege and shelling, but fierce resistance by the Ukrainian forces holed up in the Azovstal steel works has prevented Russia completely overrunning the city.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in its “special military operation” in Ukraine and each side has blamed the other for the collapse of local ceasefires and failure to arrange humanitarian corridors.

(Reporting by Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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