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Ukraine says its troops advance around devastated Bakhmut

Aerial view shows destructions in the frontline town of Bakhmut

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine said on Monday its troops were still advancing on the flanks of the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, although the "intensity" of their movement had decreased and Russia was bringing in more forces.

Russia said on Saturday it had completely taken Bakhmut, but Ukrainian officials have said since then that Kyiv's forces still control a small part of the city.

Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar reiterated on Monday that Ukraine had a small foothold inside the city itself.

"Through our movement on the flanks - to the north and south - we manage to destroy the enemy," she said in televised comments. "By moving along the flanks and occupying certain heights there, our armed forces have made it very difficult for the enemy to stay in the city itself."

"We are still advancing, but the intensity is somewhat reduced," she said.

Reuters was unable to verify the situation on the battlefield.

Maliar later wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app that Ukrainian troops still controlled "certain private facilities and the private sector in the 'Litak' area".

"The enemy is sweeping the areas of the city under its control," he wrote. "The struggle for dominant heights continues on the flanks - the north and south of the suburbs. Our fighters do not give the enemy the opportunity to gain a foothold there."

Reiterating Kyiv's aims in defending Bakhmut, she wrote: "The enemy's offensive potential has been significantly reduced, huge losses have been inflicted on the enemy (and) we have gained time for certain actions which will be discussed later."

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Dan Peleschuk, Writing by Tom Balmforth, Editing by Timothy Heritage)