Syrian army hitting militants hard in Damascus suburb
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The Syrian army continues to tighten the noose around foreign-backed militants in the town of Jobar in east of the capital Damascus, Press TV reports. Nearly two-thirds of Jobar and its surrounding area are now under the Syrian government's control, a Press TV correspondent reported on Tuesday. Jobar is one of the several strategic towns near the capital that the militants had been trying to use as a gateway to invade Damascus The Press TV team accompanied the Syrian army to the heart of the town since an armored vehicle is essential to avoid sniper fire from the extremists. Civilians fled the town months ago after the militants occupied the area. Their return seems impossible, as the area has turned into a heap of debris. The army said the major part of Jobar is now under the control of the government armed forces. "Seventy to 80 percent of Jobar is under our control, the rest is under our gunfire," an army officer told Press TV. "There are no civilians in Jobar, they have all left to the secured areas. There are only armed men, some of them are Syrians and many others are foreigners. They have various kinds of heavy machineguns and sniper rifles," he added. The army is also targeting militant fortifications in several areas on the outskirts of Damascus, including Darayya, Beit Sahm, al-Asali, and al-Qadam. A recent British defense study showed that about 100,000 militants, fragmented into 1,000 groups, are fighting in Syria against the government and people. The extracts of the study by defense consultancy IHS Jane's were published on September 16. IHS Jane's estimates that some 10,000 militants are fighting for groups affiliated with al-Qaeda such as al-Nusra Front and the rest fight for different militant groups. The analysis also said that a large number of extremists from foreign countries are also active in Syria. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria. According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence.