Hezbollah: U.S. interfering in Lebanese affairs

Hezbollah denounces new U.S. sanctions against it, says they are an "aggression" against Lebanon.

Elad Benari,

Hezbollah supporters
Hezbollah supporters

Hezbollah on Thursday denounced new U.S. measures designed to thwart its cash flow including a bill targeting its finances, calling the move an "aggression" against Lebanon.

In a statement quoted by The Associated Press, the Iranian-backed terrorist group said the new measures were a "blatant intervention in Lebanese internal affairs, a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and an unacceptable targeting of the Lebanese people."

The statement comes a day after the House of Representatives approved legislation blocking the flow of illicit money to the group and sanctioning it.

The bill targeting Hezbollah's finances, sponsored by Reps. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, directs the Trump administration to sanction the people and businesses engaged in fundraising and recruitment activities for the group.

The sanctions on Hezbollah are part of a move to take a tough line against Iran, which is Hezbollah's chief backer, without immediately moving to undermine the nuclear agreement signed between the West and the Islamic Republic in 2015.

In its statement Thursday, Hezbollah said the new measures "camouflaged" in legislation aims at subjugating Lebanon and warned against subservience or fear of such policies.

The first of the Hezbollah-related measures passed on Wednesday would impose new sanctions on any entities found to support the group, such as by providing weapons to Hezbollah. The second imposes sanctions on Iran and Hezbollah for using civilians as human shields.

The third was a resolution urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In 2013, the European Union blacklisted Hezbollah's “military wing” as a terrorist organization, while failing to blacklist the group’s political arm as well.

The U.S. named Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. Earlier this month, Washington offered multimillion-dollar rewards for two of its officials as the Trump administration developed its strategy for countering Iran’s growing regional influence.

Hezbollah blasted that move as well, accusing Washington of trying to “demonize” the group.

"It is part of the continuous efforts to demonize Hezbollah. They are false accusations that will not have any effect on the operational activities of Hezbollah," said a Hezbollah official at the time.