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Ukrainian forces have found the bodies of 44 civilians trapped under a building in Kharkiv that Russia’s military destroyed in March, a Ukrainian official announced.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synehubov announced the discovery on social media Tuesday, calling the discovery further proof that Russia intentionally targeted civilians.

“This is another horrible war crime of the Russian occupiers against the civilian population!” Synehubov said.

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The exact location of the destroyed five-story building was not provided, only that it was in the Izyum region, he said.

TOPSHOT – This photograph shows a view of a school destroyed as a result of fight not far from the centre of Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, located some 50 km from Ukrainian-Russian border, on February 28, 2022. –  (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)

The discovery was announced in the days following Ukraine’s “successful” counteroffensive mission in Kharkiv, which is attempting to push back Russian forces to its country’s border.

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The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington D.C.-based group, said Saturday that Russian forces were being pushed back in Kharkiv and that they were intentionally destroying bridges on their way out of the region.

The destroyed bridges point to a “successful Ukrainian attack” as it indicates Russia’s intention not to return to the area, the ISW report said.

Firefighters work to extinguish multiple fires after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 16, 2022. 

Firefighters work to extinguish multiple fires after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 16, 2022.
((AP Photo/Felipe Dana))

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“Armies generally only destroy bridges if they have largely decided they will not attempt to cross the river in the other direction anytime soon; Russian forces are therefore unlikely to launch operations to retake the northeast outskirts of Kharkiv liberated by Ukrainian forces in the near future,” the report said.

Ukrainian soldiers and firefighters search in a destroyed building after a bombing attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Ukrainian soldiers and firefighters search in a destroyed building after a bombing attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

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Russia’s weakened military state and exhausted supplies could also point to an inability to defend the area, the think tank predicted.

“Given the current rate of Ukrainian advances, Russian forces may be unable to prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border, even with additional reinforcements,” the ISW report said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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