Soldiers from the Azov Regiment were among the Ukrainian units that defended the Azovstal steelworks for nearly three months before surrendering in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.
Bodies of dozens of Ukrainian fighters killed at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have been returned to Ukraine.
The dead taken from the ruins of the bombed-out mill were transferred to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where DNA testing is under way to identify the remains, according to both a military leader and a spokesperson for the Azov Regiment.
The Azov Regiment was among the Ukrainian units that defended the steelworks for nearly three months before surrendering in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.
It was unclear how many bodies might remain at the plant.
Over 2,500 Ukrainians held as prisoner
The Ukrainian fighters’ dogged defence of the steel mill frustrated the Kremlin’s objective of quickly capturing Mariupol and tied down Russian forces in the strategic port city.
The defenders’ fate in Russian hands is shrouded in uncertainty.
Zelenskyy said more than 2,500 fighters from the plant are being held prisoner, and Ukraine is working to win their release.
The recovery of their remains from the Azovstal ruins has not been announced by the Ukrainian government, and Russian officials have not commented.
Ukraine on Saturday announced the first officially confirmed swap of its military dead since the conflict began.
It said the two sides exchanged 320 bodies in all, each getting back 160 sets of remains.
The swap took place on Thursday on the front line in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Anna Holovko, a spokesperson for the Azov Regiment, said all 160 of the Ukrainian bodies turned over by the Russians were from the Azovstal ruins.
“It’s important for me to bury him in our Ukrainian land,” a mother of a soldier killed in an airstrike on the plant said.
Source: TRT World