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Around 15,000 civilians from Mariupol have been illegally deported to Russia amid fears they could be used as hostages.

Officials said residents trapped in the southern port are being stripped of their passports before being taken to camps and then to remote parts of Russia against their will.

Last night there were unverified claims that Mariupol had finally fallen after Kremlin supporters released images purporting to show Russian-backed separatist leader Denis Pushilin arriving in the city along with Russian politicians Andrey Turchak and Dmitry Sablin.

Other pictures showed Russian ‘Z’ tanks rolling through the streets as invasion force soldiers manned checkpoints in and out. 

Mariupol council yesterday warned: ‘Residents of the Left Bank district are beginning to be deported en masse to Russia. 

‘In total, about 15,000 Mariupol residents have been subjected to illegal deportation.’

A column of tanks marked with the Z symbol stretches into the distance as they proceed northwards along the Mariupol-Donetsk highway on Wednesday

A column of tanks marked with the Z symbol stretches into the distance as they proceed northwards along the Mariupol-Donetsk highway on Wednesday

A column of tanks marked with the Z symbol stretches into the distance as they proceed northwards along the Mariupol-Donetsk highway on Wednesday

A mother covers her son as they lay on a ground after hearing shelling in Mariupol on Wednesday

A mother covers her son as they lay on a ground after hearing shelling in Mariupol on Wednesday

A mother covers her son as they lay on a ground after hearing shelling in Mariupol on Wednesday

A Russian army soldier stands next to local residents who queue for humanitarian aid in Mariupol

A Russian army soldier stands next to local residents who queue for humanitarian aid in Mariupol

A Russian army soldier stands next to local residents who queue for humanitarian aid in Mariupol

Service members of pro-Russian troops drive armoured vehicles past local residents in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol on Thursday

Service members of pro-Russian troops drive armoured vehicles past local residents in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol on Thursday

Service members of pro-Russian troops drive armoured vehicles past local residents in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol on Thursday

People stand in a long queue during the distribution of humanitarian aid near a damaged store of wholesaler in Mariupol on Thursday

People stand in a long queue during the distribution of humanitarian aid near a damaged store of wholesaler in Mariupol on Thursday

People stand in a long queue during the distribution of humanitarian aid near a damaged store of wholesaler in Mariupol on Thursday

Those deported were said to be first taken to a ‘filtration camp’ before being forced on to buses. City mayor Vadym Boichenko said the tactic had echoes of the Nazis during the Second World War.

Kyiv’s foreign ministry added: ‘Russia moves to the next level of terror. 6,000 Ukrainians already now in Russian camps where they may be used as hostages.’

The Kremlin has boasted of ‘rescuing’ thousands from the city of their own free will. 

Meanwhile, 100,000-plus residents are still stranded in desperate conditions with no food supply, water, power or medicine amid indiscriminate Russian shelling.

Ukraine said its attempts to evacuate citizens have been repeatedly blocked by Russian forces who were said to have stopped 40 buses reaching those in need last night. 

Source: dailymail

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