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Ukraine braces for fall of Mariupol to Russia as mayor says over 10,000 dead

The city has seen some of the heaviest attacks and civilian suffering in the war, but the land, sea and air assaults by Russian forces fighting to capture it have increasingly limited information about what’s happening inside the city

The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol yielded up more horrors after six weeks of pummeling by Russian troops, with the mayor saying more than 10,000 civilians have died in the strategic southern port, their corpses “carpeted through the streets.”

As Russia pounded targets around Ukraine and prepared for a major assault in the east, the country’s leader warned President Vladimir Putin’s forces could resort to chemical weapons, and Western officials said they were investigating an unconfirmed claim by a Ukrainian regiment that a poisonous substance was dropped in Mariupol.

The city has seen some of the heaviest attacks and civilian suffering in the war, but the land, sea and air assaults by Russian forces fighting to capture it have increasingly limited information about what’s happening inside the city.

The last Ukrainian soldiers defending Mariupol said they were “running out of ammunition” on Monday and expected to be killed or taken prisoner very soon by Russian forces surrounding the city.

Writing on Facebook, the 36th brigade said its 47-day defence of Mariupol was coming to a tragic conclusion.

“We were bombed from airplanes and shot at by artillery and tanks. We have been doing everything possible and impossible. But any resource has the potential to run out,” it said.

Russian troops have been besieging the city on the Sea of Azov since the beginning of March. The territory controlled by Ukrainian forces has gradually shrunk to a few central areas. The surviving marines are now holed up in the Azovstal iron and steelworks next to the port.

“The enemy gradually pushed us back. They surrounded us with fire, and are now trying to destroy us,” the marines posted. The “mountain of wounded” amounted to nearly half of the brigade, they added, with those “whose limbs are not torn off” continuing to fight.

Mariupol lies between the pro-Russia breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, and annexed Crimea in the south. Seizing the city has been a major goal of the Russian offensive.

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