All civilians evacuated from Azovstal steel plant, claims Ukraine
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed that all civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant
It was coordinated by the United Nations and the Red Cross, neither of which has confirmed the development
Russia has been besieging the factory for weeks, demanding the Azov battalion's surrender
A week ago, the operation to rescue individuals trapped there began.
It was coordinated by the United Nations and the Red Cross, neither of which has confirmed the development.
Ukrainian forces are holding out at the extensively bombed facility, the city's sole uncontrolled area.
Russia has been besieging the factory for weeks, demanding the Azov battalion's surrender.
The evacuees' locations are unknown, but Vereshchuk stated that this phase of the humanitarian mission was completed. Those evacuated had previously taken days to reach the Ukrainian-held area.
It was reported earlier this week that 200 citizens were still trapped within the plant.
Capturing Mariupol is critical for Russian troops since it will allow them to build a land bridge connecting Crimea and the Donbas region, as well as gain control of more than 80% of Ukraine's Black Sea coastline.
However, in order to do so, they have bombarded Mariupol with artillery, rockets, and missiles, damaging or destroying more than 90% of the city.
Ukrainian fighters within the Azovstal complex published a social media statement indicating that both they and the Russians had used a white flag system to pause fighting and allow civilians to flee.
These conversations appear to have resulted in progress on both sides, and lives have been spared as a result.
Despite vows of a ceasefire, Kremlin-backed forces are said to have increased their attacks on the steel mill in recent days.
Now that the people are free, the Ukrainian government is under increased pressure to find a way out for the about 2,000 fighters who are using the site to make a last stand for the city of Mariupol - and who have promised never to surrender.
Their families have made an urgent request to world leaders to negotiate their safe release.