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KYIV: The Ukrainian army said Thursday it had regained control of the symbolic Snake Island in the Black Sea, after raising its flag there this week following the withdrawal of Russian forces.

“We have effectively reestablished our control over Snake Island,” a senior Ukraine military official, Oleksiy Gromov, said according to Ukraine’s Interfax news agency.

Ukrainian forces have “physical control” of the island, he said.

Troops that participated in the operation have however redeployed to their garrisons, Gromov said, without specifying whether Ukraine was maintaining a military presence there.

The Russian defence ministry meanwhile said it had carried out “precision” missile strikes on the island early Thursday, killing Ukrainian soldiers and forcing survivors to flee.

Russia warns humanity at risk if West seeks to punish it over Ukraine

Kyiv said earlier this week that the Ukrainian flag was placed again on Snake Island, territory seized by Russia in the initial stages of the invasion.

Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange went viral at the start of the war, in which Ukrainian soldiers used an expletive to rebuff a Russian warship’s demand to surrender.

Ukraine forced Russian troops from Snake Island last week after a spate of heavy bombardments.

The Russian military said it had withdrawn “as a sign of goodwill.”

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