In many cases, gunmen also have had to hand themselves over to authorities. Some have returned from government custody, others have not, activists say.
"Part of the regime strategy, virtually since the beginning of the armed struggle, has been to separate the people from the rebels. To try to break the connection between the rebels and their popular support base," said Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute.
The authorities have relied on individuals with good government ties from the respective communities to act as middlemen and shuffle between the sides to broker the agreements.
The first major deal was struck in the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh, where residents raised the two-starred government flag over the city in late December. The latest truce took hold last week in the capital's Babila neighborhood, where news cameras captured footage of armed opposition fighters with full beards standing next to government soldiers in camouflage uniforms.
In between, cease-fires also have been struck in Beit Sahim, Yalda, Barzeh, as well as a shaky agreement in the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk in Damascus. A pause in the fighting also allowed aid shipments in and civilians out of the Old City of Homs.
Rebels in Barzeh, a strategically located neighborhood in northeast Damascus where fighters had battled the military to a stalemate, wrangled the most favorable terms. Fighters there have kept most of their weapons, and now man joint checkpoints with government forces.
In most of the other areas, however, the truces swing heavily in the government's favor.
In Moadamiyeh, for example, the military pounded the community with artillery and airstrikes for nearly a year. Government forces eventually encircled the town with checkpoints, then refused to allow in food, medicine, clean water and fuel.
Conditions turned desperate for the estimated 8,000 civilians still inside. Malnutrition was rife. Residents resorted to eating boiled grape leaves and raw olives because they had run out of food. Activists said children and the elderly were badly affected and frequently fell sick with illnesses exacerbated by hunger.