Twelve Russian officers and one general are reported to have been killed in a Ukrainian rocket strike that targeted a strategic command post at Chornobaivka Airport near occupied Kherson in Ukraine’s southern port area.

Captured early in the second invasion by Russia, the airport is now being used as a major Russian military base which, until recently, was out of range of Kyiv’s artillery. Early in the port’s occupation Ukraine artillery destroyed dozens of helicopters and inflicted heavy casualties until Ukraine forces were pushed west. It’s believed Ukraine is now destroying Russian targets using US-supplied M-142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). The extended-range HIMARS rocket has successfully been fired to more than 70 kilometers.

Serhiy Bratchuk, of the Odesa regional military administration, posted on Telegram:

“After a strike by HIMARS on the headquarters in the Kherson region, Major General Nasbulin, the head of the 22nd Army Corps of the Russian Armed Forces, was killed. Colonel Kens, whose death we announced yesterday, died there as well. And apart from him, the commander of the 20th motorized rifle Colonel Andrei Gorobyets, the head of the operational department of the headquarters of the 20th MRD, Colonel Koval, the head of artillery of the 20th MRD, Colonel Gordeev. In total more than 150 died, including 5 officers,” according to Bratchuk.

In an intercepted phone call between Russian troops described by the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, one man St that “the top command” had been wiped in a strike in Kherson. He says to another man that there are “12 dead among the ‘big shot f— command.”

Russian officials have either denied or downplayed the incident, with Russian media reports citing that five officers were killed and seven are missing. Ukraine’s Armed Forces have “eliminated” about 37,570 Russian soldiers in Ukraine from February 24 to July 13, according to a statement by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Telegram.

Shortly before the HIMARS missile strikes, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister pleaded with residents to leave the area due to counter-attack plans. Iryna Vereshchuk said on Sunday on national television, “It’s clear there will be fighting, there will be artillery shelling… and we therefore urge (people) to evacuate urgently.”

“I know for sure that there should not be women and children there, and that they should not become human shields,” she added.