Russia’s claims on evacuation of Turkish citizens rejected

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The head of the mosque association rejected claims by the Russian Defense Ministry, claiming that Turkish nationals were evacuated from the mosque in Ukraine’s Mariupol.

Ismail Hacıoğlu noted that the statement made by the ministry spokesperson, claiming that Turkish citizens were held captive by Ukrainian soldiers, was not true, CNN Turk reported.

Russian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed that a Russian special operations squad evacuated Turkish nationals stuck inside the mosque in Mariupol upon President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s request.

Konashenkov noted that the Russian military conducted a special operation to evacuate the Turkish citizens from Süleyman the Magnificent Mosque.

The mosque has remained intact despite clashes around the city according to Hacıoğlu, the head of the mosque association.

There were 30 Turkish nationals in the mosque, he said.

Along with those in the mosque, there were 86 Turkish nationals in the city waiting to be evacuated.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation in Mariupol is “inhuman” and called on the West to immediately provide heavy weapons, as Russia claimed it was in control of almost all of the strategic port city and urged its last defenders to surrender.

Moscow said Ukrainian forces in the city must lay down their arms by Sunday, after weeks of relative calm in the capital Kyiv were brought to an end by renewed Russian airstrikes.

Austria’s chancellor, the first European leader to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in person since the invasion began, said he thought the Russian president “believes he is winning the war” in Ukraine.

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