Hezbollah-Organized Fuel for Lebanon to Set Sail, Group Says

BEIRUT (Reuters) -
A car drives past a poster depicting Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in Bint Jbeil, southern Lebanon. (Reuters/Aziz Taher)

A shipment of Iranian fuel oil for Lebanon will set sail on Thursday organized by the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, the group said, warning its U.S. and Israeli adversaries the ship would be considered Lebanese territory as soon as it sailed.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said further ships would follow to help the people of Lebanon, who are enduring crippling fuel shortages as a result of the country’s two-year-long financial meltdown.

“We don’t want to get into a challenge with anyone, we don’t want to get into a problem with anyone. We want to help our people,” Nasrallah said. “I say to the Americans and the Israelis that the boat that will sail within hours from Iran is Lebanese territory.”

“G-d willing, this ship and others will arrive safely,” Nasrallah said, in an address commemorating a Shiite event.

Nasrallah, whose heavily armed group was founded by Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards in 1982, did not say where or when the ship would arrive, saying this would be discussed when it reached the Mediterranean.

In April, Reuters reported that Hezbollah was preparing fuel storage space in Syria as part of its efforts to deal with the financial crisis in Lebanon, citing senior officials familiar with the efforts.

The group has fighters and influence in neighboring Syria, where Hezbollah has fought in support of President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war.