The United Nations said Friday that its first humanitarian convoy had reached the area around Soledar, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks.

"Our colleagues in Ukraine have just reached government-controlled areas close to Soledar in eastern Donetsk Oblast," Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, told reporters in Geneva.

"This is the first inter-agency convoy to reach this area since the war began."

Laerke said that the three-truck convoy had set off early Friday from Dnipro and was carrying food, water, hygiene kits and medical supplies for 800 people.

The convoy had reached an area close to the embattled salt mining town Soledar, and the team was in the process of offloading the aid, he said.

"Recent fighting in and around Soledar has caused widespread destruction, leaving people there in dire need of humanitarian assistance," he said, specifying that the aid was destined for civilians.


Laerke said the UN hoped to be able to bring more convoys into the area, but stressed that "access is something that needs to be assessed on a day-to-day basis."

"We hope to reach them again because when aid such as food and other materials come in, of course that will run out," he said.

"That lasts for a certain period of time and then we need to return."

Asked whether a subsequent convoy might go into war-scarred Soledar itself, he said it remained unclear.

"It remains, as usual, conditioned by the security situation on the ground whether such a convoy could potentially move ahead in the future," he said.

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Russia claims to have seized Soledar, but Ukraine insists the fighting, in which both sides have suffered heavy losses, is ongoing.

Russian control of the town would improve its forces' position as they push toward what has been their target for months, the nearby transport crossroads of Bakhmut


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