Overwhelmed by hunger and outgunned by their enemy, Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Barzeh finally bowed to the inevitable and agreed a ceasefire with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces besieging them.

It was one of several similar deals struck around Damascus, allowing a semblance of normality to return to some districts and the government to proclaim a homegrown reconciliation process with local fighters – though not foreign jihadis.

But in Barzeh the truce agreed in January tastes like defeat for fighters who once hoped to overrun the capital, topple Assad and win a conflict which enters its fourth year this month. […]