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New US sanctions could target Hezbollah allies in Lebanon

Allies of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon could be hit by US sanctions [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 September, 2019

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Future US sanctions could target allies of Hezbollah in Lebanon, extending beyond direct affiliates of the Iran-backed Shia Muslim group, a US envoy said on Thursday.
Allies of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon could be hit by US sanctions, US envoy David Schenker said on Thursday, nearly two weeks after Washington targeted a Lebanese bank.

"In the future, we will designate, because we have to, individuals in Lebanon who are aiding and assisting Hezbollah, regardless of what their sect or religion is," the assistant secretary of near Eastern affairs told Lebanon's LBCI network. 

Hezbollah, a major political player in Lebanon that took 13 seats in the country's May 2018 parliamentary elections and secured three cabinet posts, is an ally of Christian President Michel Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement (FPM).

It is also allied with the Shia Amal movement, lead by Speaker Nabih Berri. 

The Iran-backed movement has been a US designated terrorist group since 1997 and fights alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war. 

US sanctions against Hezbollah have increased since US President Donald Trump assumed office. 

On August 29, powerful financial sanctions were imposed on the Jammal Trust Bank in Lebanon, which was accused of acting as a key financial institution for Hezbollah.

The US Treasury Department "is targeting Jammal Trust Bank and its subsidiaries for brazenly enabling Hezbollah's financial activities," including sending payments to families of suicide bombers, Sigal Mandelker, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

On Thursday, Schenker said that the move did not "target a particular community."

"Hezbollah is exploiting your financial system and by law we have to designate these banks," he said in an interview.

In July, the US imposed sanctions on three senior Hezbollah officials in Lebanon, including two lawmakers, in the first such move against members of parliament.

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