Flere hundre syriske opprørere skal ha hoppet av og tatt imot et tilbud om amnesti fra regimet.
Det er flere grunner til dette: regimet er kommet på offensiven og fremtiden virker trøsteløs, sikkerheten i opprørsområdene er dårligere enn i regjeringens, og ikke minst har jihadistenes økte innflytelse skremt mange. Det var ikke dette de sloss for.
Hvis regimet kan overtale opprørere til å akseptere et amnesti har de påført opprørerne et stort psykologisk nederlag.
Disillusioned by the Islamist twist that the «revolution» in Syria has taken, exhausted after more than two years of conflict and feeling that they are losing, growing numbers of rebels are signing up to a negotiated amnesty offered by the Assad regime.
At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas.
The move is a sign of the growing confidence of the regime, which has established a so-called «ministry of reconciliation» with the task of easing the way for former opponents to return to the government side.
Ali Haider, the minister in charge, said: «Our message is, ‘if you really want to defend the Syrian people, put down your weapons and come and defend Syria in the right way, through dialogue’.»
Mr Haider, who has a reputation as a moderate within the regime, has established a system in which opposition fighters give up their weapons in exchange for safe passage to government-held areas.
«I used to fight for revolution, but now I think we have lost what we were fighting for,» said Mohammed, a moderate Muslim rebel from the northern town of Raqqa who declined to give his last name. «Now extremists control my town. My family has moved back to government side because our town is too unsafe. Assad is terrible, but the alternative is worse.»
The prevalence of extremist Islamist groups in rebel-held areas, particularly in the north, has caused some opposition fighters to «give up» on their cause.