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Senate panel backs aiding Salvador, anti-Sandinists

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $93 million in emergency military aid for El Salvador Wednesday, with some human rights strings attached, and agreed to spend $21 million to aid anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua. But congressional sources predicted a long fight before approval of the proposed aid.

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The panel also approved an amendment by Sen. James Sasser (D) of Tennessee to prohibit permanent military construction projects in Honduras not specifically authorized by Congress.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced fresh military exercises in Central America, including ground maneuvers in Honduras with up to 400 US troops taking part.

The news comes at a time of growing US concern that El Salvador's March 25 presidential elections will be disrupted by leftist guerrillas supported by Nicaragua.

Pentagon spokesman Michael Burch said the America, an aircraft carrier with about 85 aircraft aboard, would lead a task force of two guided-missile destroyers and an oiler. He did not say how soon the ships, now in the US Virgin Islands, would sail for positions off the east coast of Central America.

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