The United States has designated the terrorist group Hezbollah for aiding and abetting Bashar al Assad’s brutal campaign in Syria. Nearly 20,000 Syrians have been killed since peaceful anti-government protests broke out in March 2011 and were met with unremitting force by the regime.
“Hezbollah’s extensive support to the Syrian government’s violent suppression of the Syrian people exposes the true nature of this terrorist organization and its destabilizing presence in the region,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen in a statement. “Long after the Assad regime is gone, the people of Syria and the entire global community will remember that Hezbollah, and its patron Iran, contributed to the regime’s murder of countless innocent Syrians.”
A statement issued by the Treasury Department notes that Hezbollah has coordinated its support to the Government of Syria with Syrian officials and Iran’s Qods Force – the arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for foreign operations. For decades, Iran has been Hezbollah’s main benefactor, providing the Lebanon-based group with training, weapons and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic and organizational aid.
The Qods Force’s continued cooperation with Hezbollah said the Treasury Department, “highlights the combined Iranian and Syrian campaign to use their military resources and terrorist clients to inflict violence and suffering on the Syrian people and deny their legitimate democratic aspirations.”
The U.S. designation of Hezbollah because of its destructive activity in Syria freezes any assets it may have under U.S. jurisdiction. But it is not the first time the U.S. has called attention to Hezbollah’s violent acts. The U.S first listed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 1995, after a long history of terrorist attacks against Americans.
At a briefing, State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin noted that Hezbollah’s malevolent activities in recent months have not been confined to Syria or to the region. “Like Iran, he said, “Hezbollah has engaged in a stepped-up terrorist campaign around the world.” It has been linked to terrorist plotting in Thailand, Azerbaijan, Egypt and Cyprus.
Mr. Benjamin said that Hezbollah’s actions in Syria in support of Assad “are particularly egregious, extending and prolonging this deadly conflict and bringing further instability to this fragile part of the world. . . .We would urge other governments to follow the U.S. designation. ... with similar action of their own, sending a strong message to Hezbollah, Syria and Iran that the international community condemns their unacceptable behavior.”