The Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, under constant Russian fire, has seen fewer ground attacks in the past 24 hours due to heavy Russian losses and harsh weather, the mayor said on Sunday. 

For nearly two months, Russia has been trying to seize Avdiivka, an industrial town near Donetsk that has become one of the most contended points on the front line. 

Russian soldiers are now on the east, north and south of the town, which is now left largely in ruins. It is nearly surrounded but is still  served by a tarmac road. 

Ukraine says its soldiers are holding firm and repelling the attacks.

"Over the past 24 hours, the number of (ground) attacks has decreased," Vitaliy Barabash, the head of the city's military administration, told Ukrainian broadcaster Freedom. 


He said this was due to three factors -- difficult "weather conditions", "large losses in both (Russian) and manpower" and the fact that the Russian army was "running out of steam".

"There are fewer and fewer (Russian) people willing to go on assaults voluntarily, and there are more and more refuseniks," Barabash said.

AFP has been unable to independently confirm his comments. 

He said Russian forces were still attacking the strategic Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant around which the town grew "almost around the clock" and there was also "very heavy fighting" in the town's industrial zone. 

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Ukraine said at the end of November that the Russian army had launched a new wave of attacks on Avdiivka, the third since October 10. 

The town has been under fire for much longer. 

It briefly fell into the hands of pro-Russian separatists in July 2014, before returning to Ukrainian control. 

Largely destroyed, the town marks the front line in the area and has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. 

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