A Ukrainian soldier points at raising smoke on his position in the front line near Soledar, Donetsk region. [Source: Aljazeera]
According to Ukraine, more than 100 Russian troops were killed in the battle for the eastern town during the past 24 hours.
Russia says its forces are edging closer to capturing Soledar, a salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine, which would mark an elusive victory for the Kremlin but comes at the cost of heavy Russian casualties and extensive destruction of the territory they claim.
More than 100 Russian troops were killed in the battle for Soledar during the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in televised remarks.
“The Russians have literally marched on the bodies of their own soldiers, burning everything on their way,” Kyrylenko said, while reporting that Russian forces had shelled a dozen towns and villages in the region in the past day.
Russian forces are using mortars and rockets to bombard Soledar in an unrelenting assault, struggling for a breakthrough after military setbacks have turned what the Kremlin hoped would be a fast victory into a grinding war of attrition that has dragged on for nearly 11 months with no end in sight.
“Civilians are trying to survive amid that bloodbath as the Russians are pressing their attacks,” Kyrylenko said.
Soledar’s fall would be a prize for a Kremlin starved of good battlefield news in recent months after losing the significant city of Kherson in December.
It would also offer Russian troops a springboard to conquer other areas of the eastern Donetsk province that remain under Ukrainian control, particularly the nearby strategic city of Bakhmut.