Russian media said on Wednesday that its forces had gained significant ground in the eastern Avdiivka sector, as Ukrainian sources said heavy combat was in progress during which the enemy was suffering heavy casualties.
Ukrainian defensive positions around Adviivka, first established in 2014-15 following the takeover of Donetsk by Russia-sponsored separatist and mercenary groups, are reportedly among the strongest of the entire 1,500-kilometer fighting front of the war in Ukraine.
The coal-mining town of Avdiivka, which Ukrainian forces have unfailingly held since Russia’s second invasion of Ukraine in 2022, has for many Ukrainians and most of its media become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression.
Work of the 116th Territorial Defense Brigade. A Russian tank and crew blown up by a mine. Reported as Avdiivka direction. pic.twitter.com/g6eckS3S1g— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) October 11, 2023
For the Kremlin, Ukraine’s continued control of Avdiivka has long been seen as a strategic threat to the Moscow-occupied city of Donetsk.
“Actions from the southern group of forces supported by aviation, artillery fire and heavy flamethrower systems, improved the situation along the front line in the vicinity of Avdiivka,” a statement from the Russian defense ministry said.
Russian military blogger, Aleksandr Sladkov, said Russian forces were advancing, against strong Ukrainian resistance, with the goal of encircling Avdiivka from the north and the south in an Oct. 11 post on his Telegram channel.
Another pro-Moscow military blogger, Aleksandr Rogov, also posted on Telegram on Oct. 11 during which he claimed Russian troops had completely cleared Ukrainian defenders from mine slag heaps to the east of Avdiivka, which is considered key terrain due to their height, and were digging in.
Local Ukrainian officials on Tuesday told the AFP news agency that Moscow’s forces had launched an artillery attack on the town in the morning and were firing incessantly.
“Battles continued throughout the night” in the north and south of the town, the head of the town’s administration Vitaliy Barabash said on Wednesday but said Ukrainian troops were “most likely” repelling Russian forces. He went on to say that Ukrainian officials were “engaged in persuading people to evacuate every day.”
russia keeps shelling Avdiivka that is almost completely annihilated by now.— Ukraine Front Line (@EuromaidanPR) October 11, 2023
Several hundred civilians still remain there. pic.twitter.com/vhSAAkagZI
Ukrainian military channels published video purportedly showing six or seven Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers that had been destroyed in fighting around the town.
According to some unverified accounts, the Russian assault had lost 93 combat vehicles during the first day of fighting.
Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian forces had “intensified actions” in several areas including Avdiivka.
“Our defenders repelled all enemy attacks and prevented the loss of lines and positions,” military spokesman Andriy Kovalyov said. “The occupiers are trying to encircle Avdiivka and try to pull Ukrainian reserves in this direction in order to weaken the actions of the Defense Forces of Ukraine."
Kovalev said Russia’s troop command has committed elements of three motorized rifle brigades from the Eighth Combined Arms Army to attacks against Avdiivka and the nearby settlements of Tonenke, Keramika and Pervomaiske.
Images posted on social media on Wednesday afternoon, that have been geolocated to the center of Avdiivka, showed substantial artillery damage to a central portion of the town, and Ukrainian troops on the ground.
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