Hezbollah says new sanctions are aimed at attacking Lebanon

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BEIRUT – Lebanon’s Hezbollah political party said on Thursday that new US sanctions against three of its officials, including two lawmakers, have widened Washington’s attack on Lebanon.

The measure marks the first time that the United States targets lawmakers of the Hezbollah anti-Zionist Shi’ite movement, heavily armed and backed by Iran, which is part of Lebanon’s coalition government.

“The attack on Lebanon and its people has increased and it has been rejected and denounced,” Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc said in the comments. “That will not change anything in our convictions.”

The sanctions broaden a US campaign targeting 50 people and entities linked to Hezbollah since 2017. Washington categorizes Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

The three new officials are MPs Amin Sherri and Muhammad Raad, as well as Wafiq Safa, whose role includes coordination with Lebanon’s security agencies.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Wednesday that the sanctions had advanced in “a new direction” than the existing measures, but would not affect the work of the government.

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US sanctions weighed on Lebanese sovereign bonds on Wednesday.

Hezbollah, or the “Party of God”, is a political and military organization that formed following the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in the 1980s.

German intelligence estimated that about 1,050 Hezbollah members and supporters were active in the European Union (EU) country in 2018, according to the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post.

Hezbollah’s military wing, nominally separate from its political party, was added to the EU’s blacklist of terrorism in 2013, but von Storch challenged the distinction between the armed and civilian elements of the group.

“The Berlin government says you must distinguish between a legitimate political wing of Hezbollah and a terrorist wing,” she told a news conference. “It does not make sense to us, or to the voters.”

The AfD party has been a brave critic of “radical Islam” and German immigration policies amid a continuing crisis of refugees – which the party’s co-leader, Alexander Gauland, has already marked an “Islamic invasion.”

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