US punishes Hezbollah leaders through sanctions over Syria

US imposes sanctions on three Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon for their support of Assad regime, which vitally becomes dependent on militant group’s operational power in war-torn country

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The US administration on Tuesday placed sanctions on three Hezbollah leaders as well as a businessman in Lebanon, leaning on that they were allegedly supporting the Bashar al Assad regime through military operations in Syria.

The sanctions imposed upon Hezbollah members carried out by the US Treasury Department upon their roles and support of the Syrian regime which has waged war against its own people since late 2011.  

"The United States will continue to aggressively target [Hezbollah] for its terrorist activities worldwide as well as its ongoing support to [Syrian President Bashar al Assad's ruthless military campaign in Syria," said Adam Szubin, the Treasury Department's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The US Treasury Department targeted at three senior military officials- Mustafa Badr Al Din, Ibrahim Aqil, and Fu'ad Shukr- for their active support of Assad regime through coordinating or directly participating in the group's military operations in Syria’s ongoing civil war.

Abd Al Nur Shalan, a businessman in Lebanon, was also imposed sanction for his arms making to Hezbollah and shipments of those weapons to Syria where they were allegedly used by the Syrian regime against the civilian population.   

According to the latest United Nations and London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights figures, which tracks the conflict from Britain through contacts on the ground, at least 220,000 people have been killed during Syria’s four years of conflicts.

Hezbollah is known for its keen support for Assad regime in Syria while it gets huge political and military support from Iran which perceives the militant group as an independent political party in Lebanon.

The group has sent hundreds of fighters to Syria in order to fight against Syrian opposition groups which varied in the course of four years of conflict.

The US and some EU countries as well as the Gulf dynasties designate the Lebanon-based group as a terrorist organisation which has also a military branch and maintaining a guerilla warfare against Israel since 1980s.

Lebanon had suffered during the civil war between 1975-1990 at a time when over 200,000 people died.

Since the civil war, Hezbollah was very active in Lebanon especially after Hassan Nasrallah became secretary general of the militant group in 1992.

Lebanese authorities worry that escalating crisis in Syria in terms of military and humanitarian causes would affect Beirut's fragile political stability and social harmony.

Lebanon officials have several times warned Hezbollah on its offensive towards Syria where the ongoing conflicts have the potential to spread out further into south through cross-border attacks.

The conflict has somehow spilled into Lebanon through cross-border offensives, such as rocket attacks launched by both parties or direct suicide and car-bomb attacks in the central districts like Beirut itself.

Nasrallah had calmed down the situation by claiming that “losing a round does not mean one lost the war," as the Nusra Front captured Idlib and backspaced  Assad’s forces to the southward in the recent months.

The advancement of militant groups like ISIS further complicated the ongoing political and humanitarian crises together with military conflicts in the war-torn Syria.

US President Barack Obama said last week that the problems in Syria cannot be resolved without support and participation from Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month reiterated Moscow’s staminal support to Syria as he warned of any external use of force which might attempt at changing the Assad regime in order to terminate the civil war.  

Russia has so far supported the Assad regime together with Iran whereas the US and other Western allies together with the Gulf Arab dynasties have long been insisting on the regime change in Syria.

Since the Geneva talks, the US and Russia have been clashing over the ongoing Syrian crisis for which the parties could not have converged on how to end the civil war engulfing the Assad regime in Damascus.

The advancement of ISIS in Iraq and Syria has stranded both Washington and Moscow, but diminished some policy differences and difference in attitudes towards Syria between the US and Russia.

Iran is also known for its solid stance towards the Assad regime in Syria and backs the Syrian military through sending weaponry and human resources, a vital support that essentially annoys Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and as well as Turkey in the region.

The Iran’s nuclear deal agreed on July 14 in Vienna is expected to further dissipate Western pressure over Damascus since Iran enhances its bargaining power regarding the regional crises foremost in Syria and Yemen.

However, Turkey has been so far the worst affected country from the humanitarian crisis in Syria and it currently hosts almost 1.8 million Syrian refugees.


TRTWorld and agencies