Russia says its troops have taken full control of Bakhmut

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows an empty street and buildings damaged by a Russian military strike in Bakhmut

(Reuters) -Russian troops have taken control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the Russian defence ministry said on Saturday, which if true would mark an end to a ferocious and bloody battle that raged for months.

The head of the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries reported the capture of Bakhmut earlier in the day. Russia refers to the city by its Soviet-era name of Artyomovsk.

"As a result of offensive actions by Wagner assault units, supported by artillery and aviation of the Southern Group of Forces, the liberation of Artyomovsk has been completed," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)