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US senator says ‘unnerving’ to see sanctions meaningless amid Iran fuel shipments to Lebanon

Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch

A senior US Senate member has acknowledged that America’s tough sanctions against Lebanon have been largely ineffective as the Arab country has been receiving desperately-needed fuel from Iran, which is itself under severe sanctions imposed by Washington.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch said, “Lebanon’s receipt of US-sanctioned Iranian fuel, trucked-in by Hezbollah through Syria, is a disappointing sign for the future of Lebanon’s accountability and democracy.”

“US sanctions must mean something. It’s unnerving to see this admin. Not make that clear,” the American senator added, implying that Iran’s fuel export to Lebanon demonstrates US failure in its sanctions policy against both countries.

Lebanon is facing a crippling economic crisis due to fuel shortages that have forced businesses and government offices to close while threatening vital sectors of the country.

The plan to buy Iranian fuel, first announced by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on August 19, marked a watershed in foiling the US sanctions, which have severely affected the two countries.

The first ship containing Iranian fuel entered Syria’s territorial waters early September.

On Thursday, a convoy of tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel, arranged by Hezbollah, arrived in Lebanon, with Lebanese media reporting that the tankers loaded with Iranian mazut entered the village of Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali in Lebanon’s northeastern Baalbek-Hermel province.

As tanker trucks entered from Syria in the eastern region of Hermel, they were greeted by large crowds of people waving Hezbollah's yellow flag and women tossing rice and rose petals.

Hezbollah declared that it had broken an "American siege."

The next Iranian ships are also expected to deliver their cargo to Lebanon through the same pathway.

Earlier this week, Nasrallah said the Iranian fuel shipments would be distributed free of charge to institutions, including state hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, and the Red Cross.

In announcing the plan, Hezbollah’s chief warned the US and Israel that the resistance movement would consider the tanker trucks and next Iranian ships “Lebanese territory” from the moment they sail.

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