Russian and Ukrainian forces are fighting in the streets of Bakhmut - but Russia does not control the eastern city, its deputy mayor has said.
Oleksandr Marchenko also told the journalist the remaining 4,000 civilians are living in shelters without access to gas, electricity or water.
Mr Marchenko said "not a single building" had remained untouched and that the city is "almost destroyed".
Bakhmut has seen months of fighting, as Russia tries to take charge.
"There is fighting near the city and there are also street fights," Mr Marchenko said.
Taking the city would be a rare battlefield success in recent months for Russia. But despite that, the city's strategic value has been questioned.
Some experts say any Russian victory could be pyrrhic - that is, not worth the cost.
Thousands of Russian troops have died trying to take Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of around 75,000. Ukrainian commanders estimate that Russia has lost seven times as many soldiers as they have.
Mr Marchenko accused the Russians of having "no goal" to save the city and that it wanted to commit "genocide of the Ukrainian people".
The fall of Bakhmut has long been predicted, but for more than six months it hasn't happened. So any reports of potential Ukrainian withdrawal should be treated with caution. The city was "almost destroyed", with bridges ruined and communication cut off, Mr Marchenko added.
"They want to destroy Bakhmut, they want to destroy the city like they did with Mariupol and Popasna," he said, referring to two cities in the east of Ukraine now under Russian control.
The Russian military laid siege to the south-eastern port city of Mariupol at the outset of the invasion and took control after three months of artillery bombardment that killed thousands.
Now, after fierce shelling, Russian forces and troops from the Wagner private army appear to have surrounded much of Bakhmut.
The Institute for the Study of War said the Ukrainian army had blown up bridges in Bakhmut, which might indicate they are “seeking to inhibit Russian movement” as they make a “controlled fighting withdrawal.”
Earlier this week, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the situation in the area was becoming “more and more difficult” – although the Ukrainian military said it had repelled numerous attacks since Friday.
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