American HIMARS play an important role in the Ukrainian battle for Kherson, fierce battles for the critical bridge

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Fierce fighting continues in the southern part of Kherson. Ukrainian forces increasingly rely on US missile systems to take on Russian forces over a critical bridge, the UK Defense Department said on Saturday.

Antonovskiy Bridge, which crosses the Dnieper, serves as an important strategic goal of Ukrainian defense, as it connects Russian army in Kherson to the occupied territories near the Crimean peninsula.

An image taken on July 21, 2022 shows craters on the Antonovsky Bridge in Kherson across the Dnieper River, caused by a Ukrainian missile strike during Russia's ongoing military operations in Ukraine.

An image taken on July 21, 2022 shows craters on the Antonovsky Bridge in Kherson across the Dnieper River, caused by a Ukrainian missile strike during Russia’s ongoing military operations in Ukraine.
(Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces relied heavily on US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which allows them to effectively launch multiple missile launches. Earlier this week, the system damaged the bridge.

“If the Dnieper crossing is banned and Russian forces in occupied Kherson are cut off, this will be a serious military and political setback for Russia,” the British ministry said.

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But UK Defense Department officials on Saturday said they believe Russia had repaired the vital bridge as of Friday and that “some vehicles” could pass over it.

“The last 48 hours have been fierce fighting. Ukrainian forces continue to advance against Russian troops in the Kherson region, west of the Dnieper, the intelligence report said. “The supply lines of Russian troops west of the Dnieper are increasingly in danger.”

Pier on the Dnieper River in Kherson, Ukraine, January.  20, 2022.

Pier on the Dnieper River in Kherson, Ukraine, January. 20, 2022.
(Christopher Ochikone/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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The Defense Ministry said it had heard claims by Ukrainian officials that Russian forces might try to build a “pontoon bridge” across the Dnieper to avoid damaging the main thoroughfare, but intelligence officials said they could not verify those claims.

“The Russian army is prioritizing maintaining its military bridge capability, but any attempt to build a crossing across the Dnieper would be a very risky operation,” the ministry said.

HIMARS supplied in the USA proved to be effective along the Ukrainian front line as it is capable of launching missiles up to 50 miles away. Some of these missiles hit several weapons depots in Russia, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed to Fox News Digital.

On Thursday, Russia bragged about its ability to counter US HIMARS missiles and said it shot down 12 missiles over the Antonovsky Bridge.

US Army soldiers fire an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at Fort Greeley, Alaska in October.

US Army soldiers fire an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at Fort Greeley, Alaska in October.
(US Air Force)

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“You can’t be afraid [of HIMARS], this must be fought. This is not a panacea, this is one of the types of weapons that the enemy is now using, ”Andrey Kartapolov, head of the State Duma Defense Committee, told Russian media.

“The system is serious, but there is a countermeasure – our air defense systems.”