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Ukrainian soldiers on Dec. 7, 2023, in Avdiivka, Ukraine. (Kostya Liberov/Libkos/Getty Images)
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Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi published a statement announcing his decision to withdraw Ukrainian units from the heavily battered city.

"Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen, I made a decision to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more advantageous lines," the statement reads.

"Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units, and inflicted significant losses on the enemy in terms of manpower and equipment."

Avdiivka, lying mere kilometers from occupied Donetsk, has faced intensified Russian attacks since October 2023 as Moscow's troops aim to encircle and capture the city. Recent reports suggest that the situation in the sector is growing increasingly dire.

"We are taking measures to stabilize the situation and hold the occupied positions," Syrskyi added. "The lives of servicemen are of the highest value. We will return Avdiivka anyway."

General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi reported earlier today that Russia was throwing "all reserves" in assaults against Avdiivka and redeploying troops from other sectors.

Ukrainian forces have reportedly repelled 30 Russian attacks on Feb. 16. Russia also launched 20 air strikes and over 150 artillery shells.

Earlier on Feb. 16, Tarnavskyi announced that Ukrainian troops had pulled back from Zenit, a position on Avdiivka's southeastern outskirts that had served as Ukraine's strongpoint since 2014.

Despite Russian advances, the Avdiivka campaign has been extremely costly to Russia in terms of manpower and equipment. Tarnavskyi said that only since Jan. 1, Moscow had lost over 20,000 troops, 199 tanks, and 481 armored fighting vehicles.

Ukraine's National Resistance Center reported that due to high casualties, Russia is using abandoned schools as morgues for its soldiers.

Ukraine war latest: Ukrainian forces withdraw from strongpoint on Avdiivka outskirts
Key developments on Feb. 16: * Commander says no Ukrainian units surrounded in Avdiivka, troops withdraw from strongpoint on city’s outskirts * 3rd Assault Brigade says it wiped out 2 Russian brigades at Avdiivka * Prosecutor General: Russia has used 24 North Korean missiles in Ukraine * Germa…

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