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U.S. sanctions Hezbollah chief in joint action with Gulf allies

U.S. sanctions Hezbollah chief in joint action with Gulf allies

The US and Saudi-led Terrorist Financing and Targeting Centre said the sanctions were aimed at Hizbullah's Shura Council, the powerful Lebanese militia's decision-making council, led by the Shiite group's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah.

The deputy chief of Hezbollah, Sheik Naim Qassem, casts his ballot during Lebanon's parliamentary elections in Beirut, Lebanon, May 6, 2018.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif deplored Saudi Arabia for siding with the U.S. government in imposing sanctions on leaders of Lebanon's Hezbollah, which he hailed as the first force to shatter the myth of Israeli invincibility.

Besides Nasrallah and Qassem, the sanctions also target Mohammead Yazbeck, Hussein al- Khalil, and Ibrahim al-Amin al-Sayyed for their terrorism links, said the Treasury.

The US Treasury Department stated Wednesday that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Gulf nations are slapping sanctions on Hezbollah's senior leadership.

These countries also designated eight other Hezbollah-linked people and entities.

"By targeting "Hezbollah's" Shura Council, our nations collectively rejected the false distinction between a so-called "Political Wing" and "Hezbollah's" global terrorist plotting", said Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Despite being targeted by Hezbollah in the past, Kuwait was not involved in sanctioning Nasrallah.

Washington's claims against Hezbollah come while the movement has been playing a significant role in the Syrian army's fight against Takfiri terror groups, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front, thus preventing the spillover of the militancy gripping neighboring Syria into Lebanon. As the Secretary General and head of the Shura Council, Nasrallah is Hezbollah's highest-ranking official and exercises direct command over Hezbollah's military and security apparatus as its supreme commander, including its involvement in the war in Syria. The sanctions imposed mean that all property of the sanctioned individuals is frozen and must be reported to Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

It was a new round of penalties on Iran and its overseas connections by Washington following US President Donald Trump's announcement of withdrawing from the landmark Iran nuclear deal last week.

Treasury said that Wednesday's sanctions are a continuation of its policy to exit from the Iran nuclear deal as it aims to address Iran's "malign activities and regionally destabilizing behavior, including that of Hezbollah".

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