US, Gulf Arab states place sanctions on Hezbollah leadership

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Sanctions imposed by the United States and Gulf countries against the leadership of the terrorist group "Hezbollah" are the "right step".

In 2016, the six Arab Sunni powers of the Gulf Co-operation Council - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman - designated Hezbollah a "terrorist" organisation.

A number of other individuals and firms, which are said to be affiliated with Hezbollah, were also hit with bans.

This is the second TFTC designation action since the center was announced on May 21, 2017.

Previously, Sheikh Naim Qassem said that Hezbollah would shield Lebanon from any schemes to "subordinate Lebanon [to foreigners]", adding that the United States and Israel "spare no efforts to attack Lebanon and impose sanctions" on the Shia organization.

The move came 10 days after Hezbollah gave a strong showing in Lebanon's elections, garnering enough seats in parliament to block any attempt by its political foes to make it disarm its militia, which rivals the Lebanese army in size and firepower. The group has repeatedly clashed with Israel, and more recently has intervened in the Syrian civil war, fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Russian Federation.

It was the third round of sanctions announced by Washington since the U.S. pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in defiance of global warnings for the White House not to harm the landmark agreement.

Treasury said that Wednesday's sanctions are a continuation of its policy to exit from the Iran nuclear deal as it aims to address Iran's "malign activities and regionally destabilizing behavior, including that of Hezbollah".

The U.S. move comes just over a week after Hezbollah and its political allies looked set to emerge as the most powerful alliance in Lebanon's next parliament.

Tensions have increased among the U.S., Iran, and Shiite Muslim groups in the Middle East over the past week after President TrumpDonald John TrumpOregon governor to face state rep in November Ashford, Eastman neck and neck in Nebraska Dem primary Progressive pick Wild wins Dem primary for Pa. House seat MORE announced he would pull the U.S. from the multination Iran nuclear deal.

Updates with additional details from seventh paragraph.