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Ukraine-Russia war: Zelenskyy visits newly liberated Izium, officials decry signs of torture

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the recently liberated city of Izium in the Kharkiv region of northern Ukraine on Wednesday after Russian troops withdrew from the region late last week.

“In the past, whenever we looked up, we were always looking for the blue sky, the sun. And today, we, especially those in the temporarily occupied areas, look up at only one thing: the flag of our country. Only,” Zelensky said at the flag-raising ceremony. “This means the hero is here. This means the enemy is gone. He has escaped.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is surrounded by soldiers as he attends a flag-raising ceremony in liberated Ukraine’s Izium on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Ukrainian soldiers inching towards Sheviero Donetsk in massive counterattack

Ukrainian forces have retaken most of Kharkov’s territory after Kiev launched a major counteroffensive earlier this month.

Western defense officials say Ukraine is gaining ground, forcing some Russian troops to withdraw across their borders.

But while defending the success Ukraine has achieved, Zelensky also noted the devastation left by Russia after six months of occupation.

A Ukrainian soldier holds a defiled Russian flag in Izium, Kharkov region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

A Ukrainian soldier holds a defiled Russian flag in Izium, Kharkov region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

Pictures released after the Russian withdrawal show buildings blackened by artillery fire, animals roaming the streets, and signs of torture among the dead, according to officials.

“The sight is very shocking, but not shocking to me,” Zelensky told reporters.

The Ukrainian president’s comments referred to the village of Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv, where dead bodies were found in the streets, mass graves were found and several reports of torture were reported after Russia withdrew its troops in March. It was something.

Ukrainian soldiers stand in Izium, Kharkov region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

Ukrainian soldiers stand in Izium, Kharkov region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

Russian troops withdraw as Ukrainian soldiers retake key areas of Kharkov

“We see a terrible situation, especially in the Kharkiv region, about what the occupiers did. Cities like Balakriya, Izium and others are in the same ranks as Bucha, Volodhanka and Irpin,” said Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. Stated.

The head of the Kharkiv Prosecutor’s Office Oleksandr Filchakov said investigators were investigating reports that civilians had been killed and buried by Russian soldiers in Balakriya, another town recaptured by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region. .

Civilian bodies were also found in the towns of Hrakové and Zaliznice.

Ukrainian soldiers rest on the steps of the city hall in Izyum, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

Ukrainian soldiers rest on the steps of the city hall in Izyum, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday that a number of investigations had been launched into allegations of human rights abuses.

Zelensky thanked his forces for their efforts to recapture several strategically important Ukrainian cities, as well as a fierce battle with Russia.

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President Volodymyr Zelenskiy poses with soldiers after attending the flag-raising ceremony in Izium, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.

President Volodymyr Zelensky poses with soldiers after attending the flag-raising ceremony in Izium, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

“The last few months have been very difficult for you, so I am very much asking you [to] You are the most valuable thing we have, so please take care of yourself.

“But it is absolutely impossible to occupy our people, the people of Ukraine,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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