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U.S. officials ramp up rhetoric against Iran-backed Hezbollah

U.S. officials ramp up rhetoric against Iran-backed Hezbollah

"Hezbollah is a terrorist organization from A to Z and we don't recognize a false distinction between its terroristic ambitions and its political role", said Mr. Sales.

"It has become the global threat it is today for one reason: Tehran's deep and abiding assistance", added State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Nathan Sales, of the organization.

"The trajectory that we have seen Hezbollah on has continued pretty much unabated throughout the duration of the conflict in Syria", according to the NCTC's Rasmussen. "With backing from its patron, the Iranian regime, Hezbollah remains one of the world's most unsafe terrorist organizations".

Israel said on Tuesday that the Hizbollah guerrilla group, its most potent enemy in neighbouring Lebanon, had gained control over that country's US-sponsored conventional military, signalling both would be in Israeli gunsights in any future war.

The State Department on Tuesday announced a $7 million reward for information about Talal Hamiyah, who runs Hezbollah's External Security Organization, and $5 million for information about Fu'ad Shukr, a senior operative who helped plan the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Sales also noted that "some countries have chosen to designate only Hezbollah's military wing, leaving its so-called political wing untouched".




Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that "the Lebanese army has become an integral part of Hizballah under Hizballah command", without providing any evidence to support the claim.

Further complicating the US effort to counter Hezbollah, some countries view the organization both as a terror group and as a political party. "It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core", he argued.

Washington and the Lebanese movement have been foes since 1983, when the group was blamed by for deadly suicide bombings against its embassy and a USA barracks in Beirut. And in Lebanon itself, some Hezbollah members serve as members of parliament and government ministers. Following a visit to Washington by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in July, the administration signaled it would proceed with USA military aid to the country.

While Hezbollah has never directly attacked the USA homeland or expressed a desire to do so publicly, David Schenker, director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told CNN the group has conducted fundraising operations in the country and would likely want to position so-called "sleeper agents" as part of its efforts to develop operational capabilities in the country. "As long as a part of the territory is occupied by Israel, and as long as the army is not powerful enough to fight Israel, we feel the need to maintain the weapons of the resistance to complement the army". "They're not on a suicide mission".


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