U.S. Sanctions Hizballah for Syria Support

Aug 10, 2012

The Treasury Department sanctioned Hizballah for supporting the Syrian government on the basis of Executive Order 13582. “This action highlights Hizballah’s activities within Syria and its integral role in the continued violence the Assad regime is inflicting on the Syrian population,” the Treasury Department said in its formal announcement.

The following is an excerpt followed by comments from a briefing by Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Daniel Benjamin.

Since the beginning of the Syrian people’s courageous campaign in early 2011 to secure their universal rights, Hizballah has provided training, advice and extensive logistical support to the Government of Syria’s increasingly ruthless efforts to fight against the opposition. Hasan Nasrallah, Hizballah’s Secretary-General, has overseen Hizballah’s efforts to help the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown on the Syrian civilian population. Hizballah has directly trained Syrian government personnel inside Syria and has facilitated the training of Syrian forces by Iran’s terrorist arm, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - Qods Force (IRGC-QF). Hizballah also has played a substantial role in efforts to expel Syrian opposition forces from areas within Syria.

“Hizballah’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 Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “Long after the Assad regime is gone, the people of Syria and the entire global community will remember that Hizballah, and its patron Iran, contributed to the regime’s murder of countless innocent Syrians.”

Hizballah has coordinated its support to the Government of Syria with the IRGC-QF and senior Syrian government officials. The IRGC-QF, which serves as a conduit for Iran’s material support to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate (GID), was listed for sanctions in the Annex to E.O. 13572, which targets those responsible for human rights abuses in Syria. It had been previously sanctioned under E.O.13224 in October 2007 for its support to terrorists, including Hizballah. Qasem Soleimani, the long-time commander of the IRGC-QF, was also designated last year pursuant to E.O. 13572 for his personal support to the Syrian regime.

For years, Iran has also provided Hizballah with training, weapons and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary and organizational aid. The IRGC-QF’s continued cooperation and coordination with Hizballah has assisted the Syrian government’s efforts to violently crush opposition to Assad’s rule in Syria and 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.

Hizballah was previously named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001, and listed in the Annex to E.O. 12947 as a Specially Designated Terrorist (SDT) on January 23, 1995. Hasan Nasrallah was named an SDT pursuant to E.O. 12947 in January 1995.

In addition to the actions taken against the IRGC-QF and Qasem Soleimani in 2011 under E.O. 13572, the United States has repeatedly exposed Iran’s support for the ongoing violence perpetrated by the Syrian government. In June 2011, Treasury designated Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) which, like the IRGC-QF, provided material support to the Syrian GID; the LEF also dispatched personnel to Damascus to assist the Syrian government in its efforts to suppress the Syrian people. In February 2012, Treasury designated the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Iran's primary intelligence organization, for providing substantial technical assistance to the Syrian GID. With actions such as today’s designation, Treasury will continue to expose Iran’s provision of support to the Government of Syria as well as its continued support of Hizballah’s activities within Syria and throughout the region.

UNDER SECRETARY COHEN: Hezbollah is actively providing support to the Assad regime as it carries out its bloody campaign against the Syrian people. As the wave of revolt has spread across the Middle East, Hezbollah leadership has publicly supported some protests where it suited their needs, and in other cases, such as in Syria, it has actively supported the violent crackdown being carried out by the Syrian dictatorship.

AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN: I think it’s safe to say that Hezbollah is playing a critical role in advising the Syrian Government and training its personnel in how to prosecute a counter insurgency. And so at this point, we’re just not going to have any more details on that to provide. But suffice it to say that we are satisfied by our assessment that the group is playing an absolutely integral role in helping the Assad regime try to put down this popular movement for a better day in Syria. And we find it reprehensible and think it ought to be discussed and showcased in public.

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