Civilians and fighters in Mariupol struggle to resist as their supplies run out

With little supplies and ammunition, amputations carried out in a dilapidated clinic and bodies piling up, fighters and civilians are holding out in Azovstal, the giant steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, as Russia tightens its grip on the last pocket of resistance.

An estimated 200 civilians remain trapped in the maze of tunnels below Azovstal, along with a handful of Ukrainian units determined to resist.

Details of the chaotic final defense and desperate efforts to treat the wounded were recounted by military medic Yevgenia Tytarenko, whose husband and colleagues remain trapped at the plant.

“Many soldiers are in serious condition in hospital. They are injured and without medicine. Food and water are running out,” said Tytarenko, who remains in contact with people inside Azovstal.

“I will resist to the end,” Mikhailo, Tytarenko’s husband, wrote in a text message she showed to AFP on Friday.

For weeks, Russian forces have attacked the steelmaker by land, air and sea in an attempt to breach its defenses.

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Commanders have said goodbye to their loved ones as Russian forces intensify the siege on defenders’ positions with no prospect of their leaving, according to Tytarenko.

“The commanders have already said goodbye to their wives. One of them wrote to his wife: ‘don’t cry. We will be back home, dead or alive,'” Tytarenko said.

She recounted a complex and chaotic operation inside Azovstal, where soldiers fight the Russians while moving civilians to other parts of the plant, as well as the bodies of the victims.

Without refrigeration, the bodies have been wrapped in plastic bags and decompose, but fighters are determined to prevent them from falling into the hands of Russian forces.

“Almost everywhere they go they carry bodies,” Tytarenko said. “All of them deserve to be evacuated, whether they are alive, injured or dead,” he added.

– Blood and Steel –

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