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Russian forces in full control of Avdiivka coke plant

file photo: view shows residential buildings heavily damaged by permanent russian military strikes in the front line town of avdiivka
FILE PHOTO: A heavily damaged building in the front line town of Avdiivka Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS/File Photo

The Russian military has taken full control of the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, Russian state news agencies reported on Monday, after most of the town fell to Russian forces over the weekend following months of devastating combat.

Russia said on Sunday it was in control of the town in the Donetsk region, but that Ukrainian units were entrenched at the plant – Ukraine’s last stronghold on the northwestern edges of Avdiivka.

“Russian flags were hoisted on the administrative buildings of the plant,” TASS state news agency cited a statement from the defence ministry.

RIA state news agency published a short aerial muted video showing sporadic blasts across what it seem like an industrial plant.

Reuters could not independently verify the video or the reports.

The fall of Avdiivka is Russia’s biggest gain since it captured the city of Bakhmut in May 2023, and comes almost two years to the day since President Vladimir Putin triggered a full-scale war by ordering the invasion of Ukraine.

Avdiivka, which had a pre-war population of around 32,000 and is called Avdeyevka by Russians, was briefly taken in 2014 by Moscow-backed separatists who seized a swathe of eastern Ukraine but was recaptured by Ukrainian troops who built extensive fortifications.

Avdiivka sits in the industrial Donbas region, 15 km (9 miles) north of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk. Before the war, the Soviet-era coke plant was one of Europe’s biggest.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

But Saturday, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s armed forces said his troops had moved back to more secure positions outside the town “to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen”.

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