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Ukrainian troops may be holding hostage over a thousand civilians

Kiev, Jun 15 (Prensa Latina) The Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), Vitali Kiselyov, reported that up to 2,500 soldiers are surrounded in the Severodonetsk industrial zone, and up to a quarter of them are foreign mercenaries.

The combatants may be holding hostage up to 1,200 civilians at the Azot plant in the aforementioned city, and about 127 of them are children. In his words, they have been there for a long time, with no water, food or medicine.

The surrounded Ukrainians contacted the Russian side to request the opening of a humanitarian corridor to the Kiev-controlled city of Lisichansk in order to allegedly allow for the evacuation of civilians. Kiselyov warned, however, that the Ukrainian fighters intend to use this to escape from Azot under the guise of civilians: “We consider that the call of the Ukrainian side for the alleged rescue of civilians is an attempt to withdraw surviving forces from the encirclement.”

Russian and LPR forces announced the opening of a humanitarian corridor on Wednesday morning to evacuate civilians from the chemical plant, the Russian National Defense Control Center reported.

According to the head of the agency, Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the humanitarian operation will last until 8:00 p.m. and will allow the transfer of civilians to the city of Svatovo, also in the LPR. He also stressed that, just as in the case of Mariupol, Moscow guarantees the preservation of life and compliance with all the regulations of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.

Mizintev clarified that a safe evacuation in the direction of Lisichansk is not possible because the Ukrainian Armed Forces blew up the last bridge over the Northern Donets river on June 13th by order of Kiev so as to prevent the withdrawal of its own troops.

pgh/llp/oda/mml

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