U.S. offers millions in rewards for two Hezbollah commanders

U.S. offers millions in rewards for two Hezbollah commanders

U.S. offers millions in rewards for two Hezbollah commanders

The United States is offering up to $7 million and up to $5 million "for information that leads to the location, arrest or conviction in any country" of Talal Hamiyah and Fu'ad Shukr, respectively, State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales said Tuesday at a news briefing.

Separately, NCTC Director Nicholas Rasmussen discussed reasons for USA efforts to counter Hezbollah. "These are the first Hezbollah-related rewards under the Rewards for Justice Program in a decade", Sales said.

Further complicating the US effort to counter Hezbollah, some countries view the organization both as a terror group and as a political party.

The United States offered multimillion-dollar rewards for two Hezbollah officials on Tuesday as it stepped up a pressure campaign against the Iranian-backed Lebanese group that it has long designated an worldwide terrorist organization.

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Shukr too has a long history of attacks against Americans, including playing a role in the Beirut Barracks Bombing which killed 241 American service members, mostly Marines.

Rasmussen said Hezbollah is determined to make its abilities to operate in the United States a priority for the organization.

Nathan Sales, the USA counter-terrorism coordinator also asked countries around the world to sanction Hezbollah applauded countries that already did so.

But the group has so far favored a "pragmatic" approach by not directly targeting the United States, he notes.

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Hezbollah not only maintains a major militia presence in Lebanon, it also claims to have achieved a sustainable degree of political legitimacy there during recent years.

Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that "the Lebanese army has become an integral part of Hizballah under Hizballah command", without providing any evidence to support the claim. "We are talking about Hezbollah and the Lebanese army; regrettably that is the reality. The Lebanese army has lost its independence and become an inseparable part of the Hezbollah apparatus", Mr. Lieberman said, according to a report by Reuters.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, center, poses with IDF soldiers during an event at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, October 10, 2017.

Prior to Tuesday, the Trump administration had toed a careful line toward Lebanon. After a July meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in July, Trump suggested the organization was an enemy of the government.

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Israel and Hezbollah fought a deadly 33-day war in 2006, which came to an end under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon, the deployment of the Lebanese army and an enlarged UN force in the south.

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