Russian forces are advancing on Avdeevka from all sides

Russian forces are stepping up their bid to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdeevka, trying to advance from all sides after weeks of fighting, a senior city official said.

Since mid-October, Russian troops have focused ground and air attacks on Avdeyevka, a focal point of their slow advance through the eastern part of Ukraine's Donbass region in the 21-month war.

The latest push, announced by Vitaly Barabash, head of the city's military administration, followed reports last week that Ukrainian troops had made some progress in halting and repelling the Russian advance.

"Things in the Avdeevka sector have become even more difficult. The intensity of clashes has been increasing for some time," Barabash told the Espreso TV media.

"The Russians opened two more sectors from which they began to carry out attacks - in the direction of Donetsk ... and in the so-called industrial zone. The enemy is trying to storm the city from all directions."

Officials say not a single building has been left intact after months of fighting in the city, known for its huge coke plant. Of the 32,000 inhabitants before the war, less than 1,500 people remain.

Much of the fighting is centered on the industrial area and the coking plant.

Earlier, Barabash said Ukrainian forces had pushed back Russian forces near Stepovo, a village northwest of Avdeevka, in recent days, pinning them close to a railway line.

Ukrainian and Western military analysts say Russia has suffered heavy losses, although the battle for the city is rarely mentioned in official Russian military communications./BGNES