Hell came to Damascus months ago. It's loud and scary in Syria's capital. But now, this week, something seems different.
It feels worse. And that makes Leena feel better.
The Damascus resident, who sides with the rebellion, says it means the forces fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad are winning.
"The rebels are winning, can you see?" she insisted during a Skype call Wednesday. "The regime feels threatened. They are scared. You can feel it here. It's so tense."
Leena, a former teacher in her 30s, told CNN that she's hearing more helicopters hovering over her home this week. Traffic near the presidential palace is more hectic. Checkpoints are more intense. Blink, she said, and the price of gas goes higher.
But the chaos, the uncertainty and booms of shells landing that keep her awake at night, now fill her with hope.
Damascus is the seat of al-Assad's power. Rebel forces seem to be fighting harder than ever in the capital and, according to analysts and on-the-ground observers like Leena, al-Assad is acting like a boxer who fears his own knock-out is coming.
"The worse it gets now, the more we know the rebels will win," she said. "We welcome this fight. It means we will wake up from this nightmare."
In the past several weeks, the rebels -- once disorganized, dysfunctional and poorly armed -- have made major strategic and psychological gains.
They have seized control of key oil fields and territory in important areas of the north. They have audaciously fired on the Damascus airport and downed several military aircraft.
Rebels pounced on a key Air Force headquarters outside the northern city of Aleppo, seizing a large cache of weapons, and leaving the regime so desperate it bombed its own bases to prevent the rebels from getting any more.
It was another blow to Syria's army, which experts say is spent, stretched thin by desertions and defections.
Syrian rebels in Damascus say they are more organized, better armed with heavy weaponry, and ready to "cleanse Syria" of government forces, Free Syrian Army spokesman Abu Qutada told CNN.
He said the rebels have "started the ending battle" of the war.
"We are conducting significant military operation inside the capital Damascus, this is a new stage," Abu Qutada said Wednesday via Skype from the Damascus suburbs. "This is the decisive stage of our fight."
And, international support for the rebels' cause appears to be increasing. NATO recently approved sending Patriot missiles to Turkey, which supports the rebels. France and other pivotal European countries have said they also back the movement against al-Assad.
Those opposed to al-Assad -- including the United States -- have said for months that the Syrian leader's days are numbered. Now, there are signs of desperation:
Al-Assad is reportedly considering his asylum options, despite insisting that he will "live and die in Syria." He is also reportedly considering using chemical weapons on his own people.
And the Syrian government has been blamed for temporarily shutting down Internet service in the country last week, an alleged attempt to thwart rebel communication.
So, with key rebel advances in the north and signs of desperation in Damascus, many observers believe the end is in sight for Syria's 21-month-old brutal civil war.
The regime is clinging to the capital, Damascus, as rebels chip away at the military, according to regional analysts. And the rebels don't have the clout to go toe-to-toe with the government in the center of Damascus, according to senior analyst Joseph Holliday.
"It (the Syrian rebellion) will not be able to overthrow the Assad regime for the foreseeable future," wrote Holliday of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
But, he said, that doesn't mean a certain victory for al-Assad' forces.
"The regime does not have the forces required to hold all of Syria, and its control is steadily eroding across the country."
'We thought it would be over fast'