Future US sanctions will hit Hizbullah benefactors: source

A US official warned Lebanese politicians on Monday (September 23rd) that future US sanctions would target any party suspected of providing "material" support to the Iran-backed Hizbullah militia, a Lebanese source told AFP.

Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea met Prime Minister Saad al-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 Hizbullah, according to a source present at talks.

"The US will sanction any group that provides material support to Hizbullah, be it through supplying weapons or money," the source quoted Billingslea as saying.

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

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 militia, said a statement released by the US embassy in Beirut.

Over the past two years, the US has tightened sanctions against Hizbullah as well as launched a campaign of "maximum pressure" against its main external sponsor, Iran.

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