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Ukraine working to pull last fighters from Mariupol mill

Kyiv: Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters defending the last holdout in Mariupol were evacuated to areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists and officials worked Tuesday to get the rest out, signalling the beginning of the end of a siege that became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

Russia called the operation a mass surrender. The Ukrainians avoided using that word but said the garrison had completed its mission.

More than 260 fighters some severely wounded were pulled from a steel plant on Monday that is the last redoubt of Ukrainian fighters in the city and transported to two towns controlled by separatists, officials on both sides said. Other fighters their precise numbers unknown remain inside the Azovstal steelworks that sprawl over 11 square kilometers (4 square miles) in a city otherwise controlled by Russian forces.

The complete capture of the plant would mark a significant milestone. It would give Russia its biggest victory of the war yet and could help free up forces for offensive action elsewhere in the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine that is now Russia's focus after a series

of setbacks.

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