Salvadoran guerrillas close ranks

An escalation of fighting between leftist guerrillas and Army units was reported as El Salvador's best-armed Marxist guerrilla group decided to rejoin a coalition of leftist groups in the Central American nation.

Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes the new fighting broke out near the Honduran border as government troops backed by helicopters swept Morazan Province in an effot to flush out guerrillas who have held much of the area for four months. Heavy skirmishing between the Army and an estimated 3,000 members of the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo was reported. The ERP is a Marxist group, but its strength is thought to be limited.

The most powerful Marxist group, the Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional, announced plans to rejoin the ERP and two other leftist groups to begin the "final assault" on the US-backed civilian-military junta.

The FARN is regarded as the best-armed guerrilla group in El Salvador, and as the most dogmatic. In its announcement, it said its earlier withdrawal from the leftist coalition had been a "tactical error that showed the weaknesses the revolutionary movement ought to overcome."

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