Azovstal steel plant has lost all contact with Ukrainian authorities as fighting continues in Mariupol, the city’s mayor said. Mariupol has also reportedly seen an exodus of Russian forces, with nearly two battalions left behind.

The Azovstal steel plant is the last holdout for Ukrainian fighters in the city of Mariupol. The rest has already been occupied by Russia, Moscow announced in a statement last month.

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“Unfortunately, there is no connection with the guys today, there is no possibility to reach out to them to understand what is happening, whether they are safe or not, ” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said in a televised interview.

Boychenko praised the fighters still stuck inside the steel mill and credited them for their efforts. The forces gave Ukraine “more time to prepare” and counter Russia’s assault.” We pray for our heroic defenders and thank them for the heroic actions they are doing today for our entire country”, the Mariupol mayor said, according to reports from NBC News.

But it’s not just Ukrainian fighters trapped inside the Azovstal steel mill. “Hundreds of peaceful civilians” are also stuck in the crossfire between the two forces. “There are more than 30 children who wait to be rescued”, Mariupol’s mayor said in the televised statement.

Meanwhile, Moscow has deflected all reports claiming that Russia continues to attack the Azovstal steel plant. “There is no assault”, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agency RIA.

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United States Department of Defense says that most of the Russian forces present in Mariupol have already left, leaving about 2,000 troops in the city. The remaining are now north-bound, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said late Thursday.

The latest update from Kyiv on Friday suggests that “almost 500 civilians” have been evacuated from Mariupol in a “continuing operation.”