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New US aid for El Salvador

By WITH ANALYSIS FROM MONITOR CORRESPONDENTS AROUND THE WORLD, EDITED BY HILARY DEVRIES / January 15, 1981



San Salvador

As the United States resumed a $5 million military aid program to El Salvador' embattled government, a leftist guerrilla offensive against that government appeared to be weakening.

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Although heavy fighting was reported throughout the small Central American country and casualties were high, the guerrillas have been unable to score any decisive victories.The US aid will not arrive in time to influence the fighting in the next week or so, but the announcement will give the government a psychological boost.

Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes that the apparent lack of public support for the guerrillas is a key cause in their inability to mount a successful offensive.

He adds, however, that the guerrillas' strength should not be underestimated. At least 4,000 and perhaps as many as 6,000 of them are engaged in the fighting -- and they possess a variety of sophisticated weaponry. But this past week's fighting has cut heavily into their ranks. Estimates of more than 500 killed are commonplace. Moreover, discovery and capture of arms caches by the military have also cut into guerrilla stre ngth.