In Syria, the three-month battle for Aleppo may have taken a significant turn Thursday.
Control of Syria's largest city is seen as critical to the survival of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Now rebel fighters have reportedly seized three key neighborhoods in the north and west of the city.
The reported successes follow the cutting of a key highway to Damascus.
"I wouldn't say they're trapped," says Amr Al-Azm, a Syrian opposition activist, speaking of the government troops in Aleppo, "they're not trapped in the sense that they can't fight their way out. But they are isolated."
Azm is also a professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio.
Another Syria expert, Joshua Landis, says the rebels are optimistic that the balance is finally swinging in their favor.
Landis lived in Syria for years, and is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, and director of the Middle Eastern Studies program.
The fighting in Aleppo came on the eve of a four-day ceasefire for the Muslim holiday of Eid el-Adha.
Neither Landis nor Azm believe the ceasefire will hold.