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US sanctions 3 top Hezbollah officials for 'aiding' Iran

ANI | Updated: Jul 10, 2019 06:14 IST

Washington DC [USA], Jul 10 (ANI): The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on two Hezbollah members of Lebanon's Parliament and a top official from the Iran-allied group in order to bolster Iran's "malign agenda".
This is the first time that Washington has initiated a move to target politicians from Hezbollah, which is designated as a terrorist group.
The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated in its sanctions blacklist MPs Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra'd, and Hezbollah security official Wafiq Safa, for acting for or on behalf of the group.
The three designated individuals are accused of providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.
"Hezbollah uses its operatives in Lebanon's parliament to manipulate institutions in support of the terrorist group's financial and security interests, and to bolster Iran's malign activities," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
"Hezbollah threatens the economic stability and security of Lebanon and the wider region, all at a cost to the Lebanese people. The United States will continue to support efforts of the Lebanese government to protect its institutions from exploitation by Iran and its terrorist proxies, and to secure a more peaceful and prosperous future for Lebanon," she added.
Explaining the reason for sanctioning the three top officials, the Treasury Department said the move highlighted how Hezbollah "uses its political power to corrupt and exploit Lebanon's financial and security elements, taking advantage of the country's democratic system and values".
The Treasury Department alleged that Sherri exploited his political office to advance Hezbollah's objectives, which often run counter to the benefit of the Lebanese people and government.
"His efforts to threaten Lebanese financial institutions on behalf of Hezbollah, as noted below, demonstrate the extreme steps he takes to advocate for Hezbollah's agenda of intimidation and violence, at the cost of a legitimate sector that is the backbone of the Lebanese economy," it said in the statement.
Ra'd is both a Member of Parliament and a member of Hezbollah's Shura Council, which directs Hezbollah units to carry out overseas military and terrorist attacks.
"Rather than advocating for political decisions that would address the economic plight of the communities he represents, he continues to prioritize Hizballah's activities and hold Lebanon's prosperity hostage," the Treasury said.
Safa, who serves as Hezbollah interlocutor to the Lebanese security forces, is having close links with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.
"As the head of Hezbollah's security apparatus, Safa has exploited Lebanon's ports and border crossings to smuggle contraband and facilitate travel on behalf of Hezbollah, undermining the security and safety of the Lebanese people, while also draining valuable import duties and revenue away from the Lebanese government," Treasury Department further said.
US citizens are barred from dealing with the three designated individuals, who now cannot access the US financial system.
With the latest sanctions, around 50 Hezbollah-affiliated individuals and entities have been designated by the Treasury Department since 2017.
The US' move comes as it continues to pile up pressure on Iran and its "proxies" in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, which Washington has accused of plotting terror attacks. (ANI)

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