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3rd tanker of Hezbollah-run Iranian oil reaches Syria en route to Lebanon

In violation of sanctions on Tehran, fuel to be taken overland into Lebanon, which is in an ongoing economic crisis

People hold portraits of the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, as they gather to welcome tankers carrying Iranian fuel, upon their arrival from Syria in the city of Baalbeck, in Lebanon's Bekaa valley, on September 16, 2021. (AFP)
Illustrative: People hold portraits of the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, as they gather to welcome tankers carrying Iranian fuel, upon their arrival from Syria in the city of Baalbeck, in Lebanon's Bekaa valley, on September 16, 2021. (AFP)

A third tanker containing a shipment of Iranian oil destined for Lebanon docked in Syria’s Baniyas port on Wednesday, an online oil shipment tracking service said.

The service said the Fortune tanker, registered in Iran, had arrived at the northern Syrian port — the same docking point for previous shipments.

Dozens of trucks carrying Iranian diesel have arrived in Lebanon in recent weeks — deliveries organized by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.

The overland delivery through neighboring Syria violates US sanctions imposed on Tehran after then-president Donald Trump pulled America out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018.

The shipments are being portrayed as a victory by Hezbollah, which stepped in to supply the fuel from its Iranian patron while the cash-strapped Lebanese government grapples with months-long fuel shortages that have paralyzed the country.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said the shipments violate Lebanon’s sovereignty and are not approved by his government.

A convoy of tanker trucks carrying Iranian diesel across the border from Syria into Lebanon arrives at the eastern town of al-Ain, Lebanon, on September 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Israel has said it will not interfere with the shipments.

Lebanon’s ongoing economic crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling class and a sectarian-based political system that thrives on patronage and nepotism.

Severe shortages in fuel have resulted in crippling power cuts and hours-long waits at gas stations.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, announced in August that Iran was sending the fuel to Lebanon to help ease the crisis. The first Hezbollah-commissioned Iranian oil tanker arrived in the Syrian port of Baniyas in September and the diesel was unloaded to Syrian storage places before it was brought overland to Lebanon by tanker trucks, where it was welcomed with celebratory gunfire.

A Hezbollah supporter fires a rocket-propelled grenade in the air to celebrate the arrival of Iranian fuel tankers to Lebanon, in the eastern town of Baalbek, Lebanon, September 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Hezbollah, often accused of operating a state-within-a-state, has been taking part in Syria’s civil war alongside government forces. It manages its own crossing points along the Lebanon-Syria border, away from formal border crossings.

Nasrallah said that the tanker did not offload its cargo directly in Lebanon to avoid embarrassing authorities and risking sanctions on Lebanon.

While the oil delivery was seen as a victory for Hezbollah, the group is facing growing internal criticism for increasingly pulling Lebanon into Iran’s orbit and for defending its political allies who resist change rather than push for reform.

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