Turkish Official Says 'Bombed' Ukraine Mosque is Undamaged

Published March 13th, 2022 - 06:11 GMT
Russian Forces Bomb Mosque in Ukraine
This photograph taken on March 12, 2022 shows a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

Contradicting initial statements made by the Ukrainian embassy in Turkey, Turkey's foreign minister reported that a Turkish mosque in Ukraine that was supposedly bombed by Russia is undamaged. The Turkish foreign minister stated that the mosque was intact following reports of rockets landing near the mosque in the Ukrainian city Mariupol.

The embassy originally wrote that the mosque had been attacked by Russia on Saturday March 12.

In the past 12 days, more than 1,500 people have died from from the conflict, according to the Mariupol mayor's office.

Ukrainian officials have renewed calls for a no-fly zone, but U.S. officials have maintained that such a move would bring the country into a direct war with Russia.

Fighting has also continued northwest of Kyiv with the bulk of Russian ground forces around 15.5 miles from the city's center, according to a British Ministry of Defense update early Saturday.

"Elements of a large Russian column north of Kyiv have dispersed," the update said. "This is likely to support a Russian attempt to encircle the city. It could also be an attempt by Russia to reduce its vulnerability to Ukrainian counterattacks, which have taken a significant toll on Russian forces."

"Beyond Kyiv, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain encircled and continue to suffer heavy Russian shelling," the update continued.

In the northern city of Chernihiv, Russian strikes hit a hotel overnight, CNN reported.

"I am here now," Vyacheslav Chaus, head of the Chernihiv region administration, told CNN Saturday. "There is no hotel anymore."

"The enemy continues to launch air and missile strikes on the city of Chernihiv. Civilians are dying, many people are being injured. The enemy shells civilian infrastructure, where there is no military."

The city also has "no electricity, almost no water, gas, and heat," he continued.

In Vasylkiv, south of Kyiv, Russian forces struck a military airport.

"Today at about 7 a.m. enemy forces shelled the city of Vasylkiv," Nataliia Balasynovych, the town's mayor, said on Facebook, according to the CNN report. "Eight missiles hit, shelled the airport. As a result of the missile strikes, the airport was completely destroyed, the runway was destroyed."

CNN also reported at least two explosions early Saturday in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro and possible remnants to anti-aircraft fire.

The prior day three Russian strikes hit Dnipro, in which one civilian was killed. The three strikes hit a school, an apartment building and a shoe factory.

There was also growing evidence developing on Friday that Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine has fallen to Russian forces and their allies in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic.

On Friday, Russian forces also captured Mayor Ivan Federov, of Melitopol, a coastal Ukrainian city near the Sea of Azov.

Zelensky demanded Federov's immediate release in a video statement released Saturday on Facebook.

"Our armed forces are doing everything to deprive the enemy of any desire to continue the war against Ukraine," Zelensky said. "The losses of Russian troops are enormous. The dynamics of the invaders' losses on the 17th day is such that it is safe to say that this is the biggest blow to the Russian army in decades."

Since the Feb. 24 invasion, Zelensky said Russia has lost 31 tactical battalions groups, more than 360 tanks and 1,205 armored vehicles, almost 60 planes, and more than 80 helicopters.

Zelensky added in the video address that groups of Russian troops have surrendered to Ukrainian forces, but Russian forces have been recruiting fighters, reservists and mercenaries to "outnumber" Ukrainian forces.

"They are using terror to break us, to break our faith in Ukraine's victory, I am confident that they will not succeed," Zelensky said.

Zelensky also addressed the city of Mariupol, saying that Ukrainian forces will guarantee a cease-fire along the evacuation corridor out of the city to allow supplies into the city and to facilitate the evacuation of civilians.

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