Here in the north, rebels call it "the final battle." For more than a month, lightly armed fighters have hurled themselves against a well-fortified helicopter base located less than a 15-minute drive from the border with Turkey.
The rebels say the last piece of government-controlled territory between Turkey and Syria's largest city, Aleppo, is Mannagh airbase. The battle for it is a modern-day siege.
"It is like a germ infecting the countryside. If the regime has even a 1% chance of taking back this region, this is a base that they would then want to rule from," said Abu Marwan, the young commander of the rebel Northern Storm brigade. "Once it has been captured, the north will be liberated."
But it is not clear how long the final battle for Mannagh airbase will ultimately take.
The siege does underscore one important point: It has taken less than a year for Syria's rebels to go from being hunted in their homes to now encircling and attacking some of the largest military bases in the country.
If and when this airbase falls, the rebels will be able to declare themselves the undisputed rulers of the north.
Spying from the olive groves
The fighting around Mannagh has devastated the farms and villages that dot this verdant corner of Syria.
Intermittent gunfire crackles across the countryside. Periodically, artillery from inside the base unleashes devastating cannon fire that sends up plumes of smoke and dust from shattered, deserted villages around the installation.
"The day the airport falls will be a holiday," said a farmer who asked only to be called Abu Yashar, to protect himself from retribution. Abu Yashar long ago sent his family away for safety and was one of the only civilians seen during a recent visit to the battle zone. His house was located about five kilometers, or three miles, from the airbase, where machine guns could be heard rattling for more than an hour.
Abu Yashar pointed out small bomb craters in his surrounding fields and displayed an unexploded mortar round that landed on his property. He also showed where artillery shells from the airbase slammed into his tractor and into a concrete shed.
"Everything the people need to survive is being targeted by the regime," the farmer said.
The airbase itself is a sprawling walled compound located not too far off a main road.
From amid the cover of tidy rows of olive trees that surround the installation, one can see with the naked eye at least three helicopters parked on the tarmac.
It was here in the olive groves that Abu Marwan and another commander named Abu Jelan had set up a telescope to spy on their enemy.
"The soldiers have started moving from inside the restaurant," Abu Jelan announced into a walkie-talkie, as he peered through the scope. He tried to call in sniper fire. "Guys, snipers! They're moving from the clubhouse to the west. They're running."
The two commanders were helping a rebel mortar team at another location target their attacks on the base.
Before every round of mortar fire, the fighters murmured a little prayer to each other over their radios.
After thunderous explosions, they tried to assess the impact of their attack.
"It landed 10 meters short of the wall," a man on the radio said after one mortar attack.
Another mortar misfired and could be heard spinning out of control and landing far short of the base.
Disappointed, Abu Marwan explained the rebels were trying to use homemade artillery rounds. But then he proudly displayed an enormous, 30-foot-long cannon his men had captured from the Syrian military.
"We will use their own weapons against them," he said, pointing to a plate engraved with Syrian military logos, fixed to the base of the cannon.
Sizing up the siege
Though the rebels appear to have trapped the government troops, they have also suffered losses.