Some 450 bodies have been exhumed from a mass grave in Izyum, a city in the northeast region of Khakriv, a top Ukrainian official told Fox News Digital Saturday.
Russian troops withdrew from Kharkiv last week as Ukrainian ground forces made rapid advances and regained the majority of the region’s territory back from Russian troops.
But the devastation left in Russia’s wake has been akin to atrocities and alleged war crimes witnessed in other regained areas across Ukraine, like Bucha and Irpin.
“We’re discovering new sites of atrocities and renew evidence of war crimes,” Yuriy Sak advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister told Fox News Digital. “Men, women children. Some of the bodies were dug out with their hands tied behind their backs.”
Witnesses of the bodies being exhumed said they depicted signs of having been shot, killed by artillery fire, mines or by airstrikes.
“We are seeing what we have warned about before, that everywhere where the Russian occupiers set their foot they leave disaster, they leave atrocities, they commit war crimes, they terrify and terrorize peaceful populations,” he added.
Sak said a torture chamber was found in the city of Kupiansk, roughly 75 miles north of Izyum, and was allegedly used by Russian forces to terrorize those they suspected of working to thwart Russia’s invasion.
Reports on Friday suggested as many as 10 torture chambers had been discovered since Russian troops withdrew.
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Ukrainian forces since the beginning of September have retaken roughly 3,300 sq miles of territory that was under Russian occupation, but Sak said Ukrainians are not celebrating yet.
“It is absolutely a paralyzing thought trying to imagine what the Ukrainian army will discover when we liberate cities like Mariupol,” Sak said, referring to the site of one of the most hard-fought battles in Ukraine where hundreds of soldiers and civilians were trapped after Russian troops advanced on the city. “Absolutely razed to the ground and destroyed and pounded by rockets and bombs for months.”
Sak said at least 25,000 civilians were believed to have been killed in the southern port city by the time Ukrainian troops left the city in May following weeks of intense fighting, mounting risk of starvation and an eventual ceasefire.
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“We understand that this war is far from over. We understand that we are standing up against an enemy which is treacherous, which is genocidal, which is still well-equipped,” he added. “We’re determined to continue what we’re doing.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy said numerous investigations into suspected war crimes and human rights abuses had been launched this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.