Ukraine’s Avdiivka expects Russian assault to ramp up

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Russian forces are likely to escalate their assault on the frontline town of Avdiivka and have been shelling nearby Ukrainian positions, a local official said on Wednesday.

Ukraine has in recent weeks reported intense Russian shelling of Avdiivka, which lies just north of the Moscow-controlled city of Donetsk that was seized by separatist forces in 2014.

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“I can say for sure that this is the largest offensive that has ever taken place in Avdiivka since the war began in 2014,” the head of the town’s administration Vitaliy Barabash said on television.

He said that while attacks on the town itself had quietened down, there were still “round the clock” skirmishes and shelling of Ukrainian positions.

“Most likely, in the next few days we expect this escalation to continue,” he warned.

The town has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against Moscow, with Kyiv clinging on there despite relentless Russian attacks during the Kremlin’s almost 20-month long offensive.

Russian forces now control territory to the east, north and south of Avdiivka, gradually tightening the noose in a bid to push Ukrainian forces further from Donetsk.

Avdiivka itself has been devastated by the conflict and most of its pre-war population of around 30,000 has fled.

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