BEIRUT (Dispatches) - Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, said late Monday that a first ship carrying Iranian fuel oil to help Lebanon through its financial crisis had docked in Syria on Sunday.
Nasrallah had announced last month that he had organized purchases of fuel from Iran, subject to U.S. economic sanctions, to ease a crippling shortage.
Nasrallah thanked Syria for receiving the shipment and facilitating its transfer, and said it would reach Lebanon by Thursday.
“We were told that the arrival of the vessel here (in Lebanon) would harm the country and we don’t want to harm the country so we went for another option,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Daily life has been almost paralyzed as fuel dries up because Lebanon lacks the dollars to pay for it amid inhuman U.S. sanctions.
The state-owned power company is generating only minimal electricity, leaving businesses and households almost entirely dependent on small, private generators that run on fuel oil.
A financial crisis has wiped 90% off the value of the Lebanese pound since 2019, pushed food prices up by more than 550%, and propelled three-quarters of the population into poverty. The World Bank has called it one of the deepest depressions of modern history.
Nasrallah said a second ship with fuel oil would arrive in the Syrian port of Baniyas in a few days, with a third and fourth, respectively carrying gasoline and fuel oil, also due.
“We could have got a whole fleet of vessels ... but we didn’t because we don’t want to aggravate anyone,” he said.
Western-backed opponents in Lebanon say the purchase risks bringing down further U.S. sanctions on a country already on its last legs.
Nasrallah said some used to claim that the promise for fuel shipments from Iran simply served propaganda purposes, but it “became finally clear that such talks were false”.
Those same people, he said, were hopeful that the occupying regime of Israel would target the vessels, but “Israel is in a tight corner and the deterrence equation is there” to dissuade it from taking any aggressive action.
By deterrence power, Nasrallah was apparently referring to his movement’s vast arsenal of missiles that the movement has pledged to use against any aggression.
The Donald Trump administration announced in 2018 that it aimed to reduce Iran’s oil sales to zero after withdrawing from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six global powers.
Nasrallah expressed his and his movement’s gratitude to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian authorities for making the fuel shipments a reality.
Referring to Lebanon’s new government that was formed recently at the direction of President Michel Aoun following endless indecision, Nasrallah said the government would decide on any fuel shipments that could follow that.
He said the first Iranian fuel oil shipment was priced in Lebanese pounds and would go to hospitals, orphanages and old people’s homes.
“Our aim is not trade or profit,” he said. “Our aim is to alleviate the suffering of the people.”