Photo: AP

Breaking news out of Aleppo, where Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad say they’ve retaken the city after almost five years of battle.

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The AP reports the Syrian military has called the victory over rebel forces a “strategic transformation” in the war, which has been raging for more than six years, racking up along the way thousands of casualties. According to reporters on the ground, the city—or what is left of it, after months of bombing—is ringed with shallow graves.

Assad’s winning military strategy relied “heavily on foreign military support from Russia, Iran and Shiite militias like Lebanon’s Hezbollah to surround the rebel-held area,” the New York Times reports, before bombing it into the ground.

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In a statement reportedly broadcast on Syrian TV, government forces announced they had regained “security” in the city, which was fully evacuated Thursday after several false starts hampered by political dissonance, heavy snowfall and worn equipment.

This story is breaking and will be updated.