Surrendered Azovstal fighters taken to Donetsk region

STORY: Russia's defense ministry on Thursday said 771 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 1,730 since Monday (May 16), state news agency RIA reported.

Ukrainian officials, who have sought a prisoner swap, had declined to comment, saying it could endanger rescue efforts.

Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy head of the Azov Regiment, released an 18-second video address on Thursday to say he and other commanders were still on the territory of the plant.

A full abandonment of the bunkers and tunnels of the bombed-out plant would end the most destructive siege of a war that began when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

It was unclear how many fighters remained inside on Friday.

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