Salvadoran troops circle rebel posts in the north

US-trained Salvadoran soldiers surrounded suspected leftist guerrilla strongholds near the northern border with Honduras and began a "hammer and Anvil" offensive designed to crush the rebels, Army officers said.

The officers declined comment on casualties or the level of fighting in the northern province of Chalatenango, a traditional stronghold of Marxist guerrillas, but said the offensive was spearheaded by elite Atlacatl Brigade commandos trained by US advisers and armed with American weapons. The officers said the sweep was mounted from the towns of La Laguna, El Carrizal, and Ojo de Agua, forming a triangle three miles from the Honduran border.

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