The bulk of the Russian forces deployed in Mariupol have now withdrawn to the north of the city, although the port city continues to suffer constant air and artillery strikes, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing on May 5.
"In general we would assess that the majority of Russian ground forces that were dedicated to Mariupol have left and have moved to the north away from Mariupol," Kirby said, according to a report by Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.
The Deputy Commander of the Azov Regiment, Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, said that the Russian invaders had been actively storming the territory of Azovstal for the third straight day. The enemy broke into the perimeter of the plant, and active fighting is ongoing, he said.
An unknown number of Ukrainian troops are resisting the Russian attacks in the Azovstal plant. Civilians and seriously wounded soldiers are taking shelter in a warren of underground tunnels and bunkers underneath the plant.
A day earlier, Iryna Vereshchuk said that on May 4, a total of 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol, Manhush, Berdyansk, Tokmak and Vasylivka, and that they had already reached Zaporizhzhia. On May 3, more than 100 Mariupol residents from Azovstal finally arrived in the city.
On May 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel mill was underway. The effort is being conducted by the UN and the International Committee of Red Cross. Prior to that, the Russian side disrupted the evacuation or forcibly removed Mariupol residents to the occupied territories and the Russian Federation.
Preliminary estimates suggest that as many as 22,000 civilians have been killed in the city since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Attempting to conceal apparent war crimes, the Russians brought at least 13 mobile crematoria to the area, Ukrainian authorities reported. Reports by Ukrainian journalists and local officials suggest there are at least three mass grave sites in and around the city where dead civilians have been buried.
Ukrainian forces in Mariupol are defending the Azovstal plant and are resisting despite the complete encirclement. They have said they are ready to evacuate with the support of a third party with their weapons, taking away the wounded and the bodies of the dead. They have repeatedly requested that an extraction procedure be launched for them.