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Photos: Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut as civilians flee

Pressure on Ukrainian troops in the eastern city of Bakhmut is mounting.

The Ukrainian army is trying to help civilians flee the city, which Russian troops have been trying to capture for months.

A woman was reportedly killed while two men were badly injured on Saturday as they attempted to flee across a makeshift bridge.

Western analysts say the Ukrainian army is considering a controlled withdrawal from the city. Officials from Britain’s military intelligence agency and a Washington-based think tank report that Ukraine has moved to destroy strategic bridges near the city.

A Russian victory at Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of about 70,000, would give it the first major prize in a costly winter offensive after calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year.

Russia says it would be a stepping stone to completing the conquest of the industrial region of Donbas, one of Moscow’s main objectives.

Before the war, Bakhmut was known for its salt and gypsum mines. Ukraine says the city has little strategic value, and Russia’s massive losses in taking Bakhmut could shape the course of the conflict.