BEIRUT: The United States offered on Tuesday a multi-million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of two high ranking Hezbollah officials, the latest in the Trump administration’s strategy to curb the militant’s group regional influence.
The U.S State Department is offering up to $7 million for information on Talal Hamiyah, and up to $5 million for information on Fouad Shukr, in a move not seen in over a decade.
Both men are accused by the United States of plotting terrorist attacks targeting Americans and Israeli citizens, with Hamiyeh being on the DOS’ Specially Designated Terrorist list since 2012 for his alleged participation in the planning of attacks on American soil.
Shukr, on the other hand, is accused of planning and launching the 1983 attack on the U.S Marine Corps. Barracks in Beirut, according to a statement released by the DOS. He has been on the SDT list since 2015.
Hezbollah was quick to dismiss the significance of this move, with an official telling the Associated Press that this represents nothing more than the U.S' latest attempt to "demonize" the group, while adding that the United States is in no position to label others as terrorists as they have "a long history of financing and supporting terrorism."
This signals an expansion of Washington’s soon-to-be unveiled Iran strategy which began last month when the U.S Senate expedited legislation putting Hezbollah’s financial networks in Lebanon and abroad, under a larger microscope; while also targeting the group for using civilians as “human shields.”
Hezbollah, which is part of Lebanon’s flimsy coalition government, is classified by the U.S as a terrorist organization.
The Iran-backed militant group has seen its influence rise in recent years; a development that has pushed the Trump administration to intensify its campaign against the group.
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