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Future US sanctions will hit Hezbollah benefactors, US said to warn Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A US official warns Lebanese politicians today that future US sanctions would target any party suspected of providing “material” support to the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, a Lebanese source tells AFP.

US Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea met Prime Minister Saad Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri on Monday, during a two-day visit to Lebanon.

During the meetings, Billingslea warned that US sanctions may extend beyond direct affiliates of Hezbollah, according to a source present at the talks.

“The US will sanction any group that provides material support to Hezbollah, be it through supplying weapons or money,” the source quotes Billingslea as saying.

But sanctions “will not target groups who are only tied to Hezbollah politically,” he adds, easing concern that the group’s political allies, including President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and Berri’s Amal Movement, could be targeted.

As well as maintaining a large paramilitary force that has fought both Syrian rebels and Israel, Hezbollah is a key political force in Lebanon.

Billingslea, who arrived in the country on Sunday for meetings with banking and government officials, aims to “encourage Lebanon to take the necessary steps to maintain distance” from the group, says a statement released by the US embassy in Beirut.

— AFP

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