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US foreign policy

US imposes new Hezbollah sanctions, calls for more action against Iran-backed group

Published: Updated:

The United States imposed sanctions on seven individuals Tuesday for evading sanctions and funneling millions of dollars to Hezbollah while the top US diplomat called on the international community to take more action against the Iran-backed group.

“The threat that Hezbollah poses to the United States, our allies, and interests in the Middle East and globally, calls for countries around the world to take steps to restrict its activities and disrupt its facilitation networks,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after the designation announcement by the Treasury Department.

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“We applaud the countries in Europe and South and Central America that have taken action against Hezbollah in recent years and call on other governments around the world to follow suit,” Blinken said.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah has been designated a terrorist organization by the US, several European countries and Gulf countries in recent years.

A bipartisan approach from Washington has led to an aggressive sanctions regime against the group and allies that work to provide it financial and political support.

Earlier Tuesday, the US designated seven individuals for acting for or on behalf of Hezbollah and its financial arm, Al-Qard al-Hassan (AQAH). “While AQAH purports to serve the Lebanese people, in practice, it illicitly moves funds through shell accounts and facilitators, exposing Lebanese financial institutions to sanctions risk related to conducting business with a designated entity. Moreover, by hoarding cash that is desperately needed by the Lebanese economy, AQAH empowers Hizballah to build its own support base and compromise the stability of the Lebanese state,” the Treasury Department said.

Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Andrea Gacki said that Hezbollah continued to abuse the Lebanese financial sector and “drain Lebanon’s financial resources at an already dire time.”

The individuals sanctioned on Tuesday are accused of evading sanctions and transferring around $500 million for AQAH.

“These designations reinforce recent US action against Hezbollah financiers who have provided support or services to Hezbollah. The United States will continue to take action to disrupt Hezbollah’s operations,” Blinken said.

Despite taking a softer approach than the Trump administration on Iran’s proxies in the region, President Joe Biden has told aides and advisers that he would not ease up on Hezbollah.