Hezbollah says unfazed by US, Saudi 'threats'

AFP , Thursday 25 May 2017

People watch Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as he appears on a screen during a live broadcast to speak to his supporters at an event marking Resistance and Liberation Day in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, May 25, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

The head of Lebanese movement Hezbollah said Thursday he was unfazed by "threats" of attacks or fresh sanctions, days after US President Donald Trump slammed the group and its sponsor Iran.

On his visit to Riyadh last week, Trump blamed Iran for destabilising the Middle East and called for a crackdown on its allies, including Shia movement Hezbollah.

But party chief Hassan Nasrallah struck a defiant tone on Thursday, saying Hezbollah was "not afraid of any war, sanctions, or intimidation in the media."

"Threats of killing or dying do not scare us... No one scares us at all. They are weaker than ever," Nasrallah said.

He spoke via video-link to hundreds of supporters gathered in the northeast Lebanese town of Hermel to commemorate the 17th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

But the border remains unstable, rocked by occasional skirmishes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters.

Hezbollah and its sponsor Iran are also fiercely despised by Saudi Arabia -- which Trump chose as his first foreign destination since he took office.

During a joint summit there last weekend, the US leader pointed the finger at Iran for destabilising the region.

"From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region," Trump said.

He called on all countries to work together to isolate Tehran "until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace".

Saudi's King Salman also lambasted the Iranian government as "the spearhead of global terrorism".

Ahead of the summit, Washington and Riyadh issued their first "joint terrorist designation" against a top Hezbollah official.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards created Hezbollah (Party of God) in the 1980s.

With political and military support from Iran, it remains the only side not to have put down weapons after Lebanon's civil war from 1975 to 1990.

The United States, Canada and Australia have listed Hezbollah as a "terrorist" group. The European Union has also blacklisted its military wing.

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