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A senior Ukrainian official told Fox News Digital Saturday that about 450 bodies had been exhumed from a mass grave in Izyum, a city in the northeastern region of Khakriv.
Russian forces withdrew from Kharkiv last week as Ukrainian ground forces made rapid advances and recaptured the majority of the region’s territory from Russian forces.
But the devastation he left behind in Russia’s wake was akin to the atrocities and alleged war crimes seen in other retaken regions across Ukraine, such as Bucha and Irpin.
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“We are discovering new sites of atrocities and renewing evidence of war crimes,” Yuri Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, told Fox News Digital. “Men, women, children.. Some of the bodies were recovered with their hands tied behind their backs.”
Witnesses to the bodies being exhumed said they photographed the marks of being shot or killed by artillery fire, mines, or airstrikes.
“We see what we warned about before, that everywhere the Russian occupiers set their feet they leave disaster, they leave atrocities, they commit war crimes, they terrorize and terrorize the peaceful population,” he added.
Sack said a torture chamber was found in the city of Kobyansk, about 75 miles north of Izyum, allegedly used by Russian forces to terrorize those they suspected of working to thwart the Russian invasion.
Reports on Friday indicated that as many as 10 torture chambers have been discovered since the withdrawal of Russian forces.
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Ukrainian President Zelensky says a great danger has been discovered in Izyum after the withdrawal of Russian forces
Ukrainian forces have since the beginning of September recaptured nearly 3,300 square miles of Russian-occupied territory, but Sack said the Ukrainians had yet to celebrate.
“It’s a completely paralyzed idea trying to imagine what the Ukrainian army will discover when we liberate cities like Mariupol,” Sack said, pointing to the site of one of the fiercest battles in Ukraine where hundreds of soldiers and civilians were trapped. After the Russian forces advanced into the city. “It was completely destroyed, flattened, destroyed and bombed with missiles and bombs for months.”
Sack said he believed at least 25,000 civilians had been killed in the southern port city by the time Ukrainian forces left the city in May after weeks of heavy fighting, raising the risk of starvation and an eventual ceasefire.
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“We understand that this war is not over yet. We understand that we are facing a treacherous enemy who is genocidal and is still well-equipped,” he added. “We are determined to continue what we are doing.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said several investigations into suspected war crimes and human rights violations had begun this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.