If this is a crossroads in the war, the road leading to it has been long and hard.
Syria's conflict began in March 2011, when protesters like Leena took to the streets to peacefully call for more freedom. They were inspired by Arab Spring demonstrations that toppled dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.
"I have to tell you, we thought it would be over fast," Leena said. "I never thought it would come this far. None of us expected to lose this many friends."
She pauses, her voice breaking.
"We ... knew the regime was strong, but not that ... fierce. I guess we did not expect how terrible it would be."
The most heinous acts man is capable of inflicting on others have happened in Syria.
Journalists, Syrians and human rights workers say the military has gone house to house and shot dead entire families.
Children, they say, have been abducted, tortured and killed and dumped on their parents' front door. There are allegations of underground torture facilities across the country.
The Syrian government denies it is targeting its own people, saying it has gone after "terrorists" that are seeking to overthrow the government.
While it's tough to pin down estimates of regime forces and rebel fighters, most analysts agree that the Syrian government still retains vast superiority in firepower over the rebel fighters.
Yet there's a "turning process" going on in Syria, according to analyst Jeffrey White, who recently visited the region.
"Morale, combat spirit (within regime forces) seems to be degrading," said White, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "The rebels are getting stronger, they keep forming units, they keep getting defectors, they keep getting personnel."
The rebel movement has grown bottom-up, a fighting force replete with Syrian army defectors, Syrian citizens, and Islamists -- from inside and outside the country. Regional commands are emerging, and units are working together.
The government has ceded huge swaths of territory in the north, and hasn't been able to oust rebels from the most populous city of Aleppo, which is almost fully under rebel control.
"The opposition pretty much owns Syria," said Michael Weiss, research director at the UK-based Henry Jackson Society. "The regime hardcore -- they are in the red in the ledger now, not in the black."
The rebels have now emerged as a "quasi-professional army." He said their advances have made make it "much easier to impose a no-fly zone in the north of Syria" -- if that happens.
Yet, the Syrian military hopes to gain advantage with its superior firepower by locking down key urban centers, such as Damascus and Homs.
But Weiss notes that the government hasn't had a major military victory in the north of Syria for months, and the rebels have effectively encircled Damascus.
It also hasn't embarked on major ground offensives, like the one in Aleppo earlier this year. Such activity puts the army at risk of more defections and desertions.
As analysts study every move by the rebels and government forces to determine Syria's endgame, the people living there -- some filled with hope, others mired in frustration -- want to know when it will end.
Echoing a common sentiment among many Syrians, a Syrian blogger in Homs, who calls himself "Big Al," says recent attempts by the international community are all too little, too late.
"Syrians are doing things on their own and no one will help them," he told CNN.
"The world watched and is still watching Syrians get slaughtered and did nothing and will continue to do nothing, so empty threats mean nothing to us," he said.
He dismissed recent reports that NATO had approved deploying Patriot missiles near the Turkey-Syrian border as an "empty threat." He also rejected the recent outcry over the threat of chemical weapons against Syrians, saying, "the only reason they're saying these threats is to pretend that they might actually do something and they won't."