BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Washington's move to reward tips about two Hezbollah members goes in line with U.S. efforts to demonize the Lebanese resistance movement, says a movement official.
The United States is "the last state" to designate people as terrorists, the unnamed Hezbollah official told the Associated Press in a report published on Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of State said it would pay up to $7 million for tips about Talal Hamiyah, the head of Hezbollah’s foreign operations, and $5 million for Fu’ad Shukr, a top military officer of the movement. Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, told reporters that the reward, the first of its kind in a decade, was "another step to increase the pressure” on Hezbollah.
"It is part of the continuous efforts to demonize Hezbollah. They are false accusations that will not have any effect on the operational activities of Hezbollah," the unnamed Hezbollah official said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Hezbollah official accused the U.S. of supporting terrorist organizations and backing states and regimes "that have a long history in financing and supporting terrorism."
Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, told reporters that the reward, the first of its kind in a decade, was "another step to increase the pressure” on Hezbollah.
Sales denounced the resistance movement as a "global threat” and stressed that "countering Hezbollah is a top priority for the [U.S. President Donald] Trump administration.”
He further signaled that Washington would press countries into designating Hezbollah as a terrorist group and into making no distinction between the group’s political and military wings.
The U.S. labels the entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Most recently, the Congress Foreign Affairs committee voted for a network of additional sanctions against the movement.?
Zionist war minister Avigdor Lieberman has also claimed that Hezbollah controls the Lebanese army.
"We are talking about Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, and to my regret this is the reality. The Lebanese army has turned into an integral part of Hezbollah’s command structure,” he added.
Hezbollah has played a critical role in the Syrian military’s counter-terrorism operations over the past few years. The movement says the mission is aimed at preventing the spillover of the Syria crisis into Lebanon.