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The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday announced it had launched the largest since its inception 20 years ago to investigate war crimes committed during Russia’s deadly war in Ukraine.

“During this mission, my office will focus on a number of key tasks aimed at speeding up our independent investigations and strengthening the synergy of investigative actions with national authorities on the ground in Ukraine,” said Interior Ministry Prosecutor Karim Khan.

FILE – Karim Ahmed Khan, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, speaks at a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in Khartoum, Sudan, August 12, 2021.
(AP Photo / Marwan Ali, file)

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A team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support staff has been sent to Ukraine to support authorities investigating war crimes.

“This is the largest field deployment of my office since its inception,” he said.

Investigators will work to gather evidence and ensure the proper collection and recording of forensic examinations and digital evidence.

The Interior Ministry will cooperate with experts from France, the Netherlands and other countries to assist the Ukrainian authorities in identifying the remains of victims, ballistic analysis and preservation of evidence of forensic examination.

Volunteers load the bodies of civilians killed in Bucha into a truck sent to the morgue for investigation on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Volunteers load the bodies of civilians killed in Bucha into a truck sent to the morgue for investigation on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 12, 2022
(AP)

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“Our forensic experts will map the existing actions of national investigators at the crime scene to monitor the work process and strengthen the chain of custody for strong evidence,” Khan said.

The prosecutor of the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that 21 states agreed to provide expert support to investigations, and another 20 promised financial support for on-site investigations.

The Russian military has been accused of gross human rights abuses after massacres and torture and executions emerged during a three-month invasion of Ukraine.

More than 13 million Ukrainians have fled their homes as a result of the war, and more than 6.2 million have fled to neighboring countries, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UN said on Monday that there were at least 7,564 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 3,668 killed and 3,896 wounded.

Families are waiting to board a train at Kramatorsk Central Station when fleeing the city of Kramatorsk in the Donbass in early April.

Families are waiting to board a train at Kramatorsk Central Station when fleeing the city of Kramatorsk in the Donbass in early April.
(Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP via Getty Images)

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But the top international agency has repeatedly warned that “the real numbers are much higher.”

Enemy fighting in some parts of Ukraine has delayed accurate reports of civilian casualties.

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