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KIEV, February 19. /TASS/. More than 90% of Ukrainian troops have been pulled out of Debaltsevo, the spokesman for the military operation’s headquarters, Anatoly Stelmakh, told a news briefing Thursday morning.
"The withdrawal from Debaltsevo to new positions is about to be completed. More than 90% of manpower has left the city and its outskirts," he said.
"Although the intensity of fire attacks in this area has eased considerably, sporadic shootouts do occur during the day," he said.
Earlier on Thursday the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said the militias had cleared the city.
"We are through with combing Debaltsevo," the Donetsk News Agency quotes him as saying. "Regrettably, the Ukrainian authorities had ignored the calls for laying down arms. The losses of the Ukrainian armed forces are estimated at 3,000-3,500 men killed."
He declared that the militias would start hading over the bodies later on Thursday. The authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic were going to release all those who had surrendered, Zakharchenko added.
"We are about to start releasing the prisoners of war who have already surrendered and keep surrendering," he said.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday evening declared 2,475 Ukrainian military and 200 pieces of equipment had been pulled out of Debaltsevo.