Russia has stepped up its ongoing assault against the town of Avdiivka, Ukrainian officials said on Friday morning, saying Kyiv’s forces were “steadfastly holding the defense, causing the enemy numerous losses.”

Ukrainian forces had been bracing for an escalation in Russian attacks after a lull in recent days, following a disastrous attempt earlier in the month to take the town.

“The enemy has resumed offensive actions and does not stop trying to surround Avdiivka,” the Ukrainian general staff reported in a morning briefing on Friday.

It added: “Our warriors are steadfastly holding the defense, causing the enemy numerous losses.

“Over the last day, the losses of the enemy were: nearly 900 invaders killed and wounded, nearly 50 tanks destroyed and over 100 units of the enemy's armored equipment.”

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Russia's defense ministry said Thursday evening it had destroyed some Ukrainian military vehicles near the city and pro-Kremlin Russian military bloggers also reported heavy fighting in the vicinity.

The front-line city in the eastern Donetsk region has been the center of intense fighting in recent weeks, and was the target of failed Russian offensive earlier this month using columns of armored vehicles and tanks from three sides.

On the morning of Oct. 10, dozens of Russian tanks and armored vehicles advanced on the city in columns from the south, north, and northwest, supported by artillery fire and bombardments from helicopters and planes.

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Major Maxim Morozov, a commander of a special police unit in the city, told AFP the huge Russian attack was a “shock to everyone.”

“There were up to 50 air strikes,” on the city that day, he said.

Yuriy Shtepa, 55, was in a trench northwest of the city as the Russians advanced.

“We quickly knew that (Russian) military equipment was arriving. We could hear it five to seven kilometers (three to four miles) away,” said Shtepa, who leads a fire support group in a brigade of Ukraine’s territorial defense forces.

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Donning yellow protective glasses and a flat cap, Shtepa gesticulated forcefully as he recalled the Russian attack.

“Ours started to target them. The artillery worked well for us. They (the Russians) did not succeed. But when there are 30-40 vehicles, it’s a little difficult,” he said.

There was a “plane every 15 minutes or so, and helicopters every three to five minutes,” he added.

Russian forces have so far failed to take the town and they have suffered huge losses of both men and materiel.

On Oct. 13, it was reported that Russia launched an unsuccessful attack against Avdiivka, deploying 100-200 armored vehicles under the command of Russia's 25th Combined Arms Army, resulting in what could be its worst combat losses since mid-February this year.

In a recently released intercepted call, a Russian soldier possibly in the Avdiivka area described the horrific conditions he and his unit were facing, saying they’d lost 100 men “in a few days” and had a crippling lack of basic supplies.

The soldier’s comments echo other reports from Russian sources coming from Avdiivka – last week a Russian volunteer pleaded for followers to donate body bags for Kremlin soldiers assaulting Avdiivka, saying that there’s “a horrible deficit.”

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Avdiivka has been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance since 2014, after it briefly fell to Russian-backed separatists.

It lies just 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Moscow-held city of Donetsk, the capital of the Donetsk region that Russia said it was annexing last September.

Built around a huge coke plant, Avdiivka had a pre-war population of around 30,000 people.

Around 1,600 remain, according to local authorities–- living in basements converted into bomb shelters.

The city center has been all but destroyed through daily Russian artillery shelling and a months-long aerial bombing campaign.

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