After the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced the evacuation of more than 260 Ukrainian soldiers, including 53 wounded, on Monday from the Azovstal steel complex, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian resistance in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, which is controlled by Russian forces, Kyiv confirmed the end of the combat defense mission there, and pledged to work to rescue The last soldier trapped.
In the early hours of Tuesday, the leadership of the Ukrainian army confirmed that the task of defending the besieged Azovstal steel factory, carried out by its members there, had been completed, stressing that it would not hesitate to work to get everyone out.
In a statement, the General Staff added that the army’s high command ordered the commanders of the units stationed in Azovstal to save the lives of individuals.
Injured to hospitals
In turn, the Ukrainian Assistant Defense Minister stated that 53 soldiers were wounded and taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol on Monday, while 211 others were transferred to another location.
An eyewitness also revealed that five buses and an armored personnel carrier of soldiers were transported late Monday to Novoazovsk, while some were transported on stretchers to a hospital, according to Reuters.
The last castles of Mariupol
It is noteworthy that the steel factory, which represents the last stronghold of the defenders in the city, which was controlled almost completely by Russia after a siege that lasted more than two months, was subjected to heavy bombardment during the last period.
The last defenders of Azovstal were holed up in barracks and tunnels built inside the underground factory to withstand nuclear war.
However, Russia returned and announced a ceasefire, which allowed the evacuation of all women, children and civilians from the factory, under UN auspices.
And the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced that efforts to rescue the defenders who are still in Azovstal are continuing.
Since the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine on February 24, the city of Mariupol has constituted a strategic target for Moscow, especially since its control allows the opening of a land corridor for its forces between the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea (south), which it annexed to its territory in 2014.