Hezbollah calls U.S. sanctions 'part of battle'

 Hezbollah calls U.S. sanctions part of battle

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Friday that U.S. sanctions would not impact the Iran-backed movement but could harm its backers, calling it "part of the battle".

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also vowed to mount a major campaign against corruption in the Lebanese state and warned it would face financial collapse if it did not tackle waste.

The United States has sought to choke off funding for Shi'ite Hezbollah, imposing sanctions last week on its representative to Iran, as well as a major financier and five companies in Europe, West Africa and the Middle East.

Washington and Gulf partners also announced further sanctions on Hezbollah's leadership, including its top two officials, Nasrallah and Naim Qassem.

The sanctions came among a slew of fresh measures targeting Tehran and its ally Hezbollah since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

"When they (sanction) Lebanese companies or organizations...of course, this is very harmful, and so nobody should underestimate it," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

He said the Lebanese government was responsible for citizens hit by the sanctions and must not turn its back on them. Nasrallah warned that U.S. measures would continue to increase and called on supporters to endure.

"Pressure on any donor or contributor to this resistance ... this is part of the battle," he said.

He said U.S. sanctions would not affect the formation of a new government, which is set to start next week after Lebanon held a May 6 parliamentary election.

(Reporting by Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam; Writing by Tom Perry; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Updated Date: May 26, 2018 00:07:15 IST