Despite the threat of possible US sanctions, Hezbollah has arranged up to 80 oil tankers carrying Iranian diesel fuel to arrive in Lebanon via Syria on September 16th.
The tankers are destined for Baalbek, about 67 kilometers northeast of Beirut, where the fuel will be discharged into tankers owned by Hezbollah.
The group has also organized a ceremony to celebrate the shipment, which is expected to contain 3 million liters of fuel.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the militant group, said in August that an Iranian fuel tanker will sail toward Lebanon “within hours,” warning Israel and the US not to intercept it.
The move, Hezbollah said, was to help ease Lebanon’s crippling fuel shortage that has paralyzed the country for weeks.
Raymond Ghajar, Lebanon’s caretaker energy minister, said he “did not receive any request to approve fuel importation” undertaken by Hezbollah.
The delivery would violate US sanctions imposed on Tehran after the US left the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2018. Hezbollah’s step is also potentially exposing Lebanon to similar US sanctions.
On September 13th, Nasrallah said the Iranian ship docked on the previous night in Syria’s Banias port and started to discharge diesel fuel in Syrian tankers that will arrive in Baalbek on September 16th.
“The vessel destined for Baalbek will arrive through Hermel,” Nasrallah said.
Al-Amana, a US-sanctioned company that belongs to Hezbollah, is expected to receive the transported Iranian fuel.
Nasrallah claimed he “spared Lebanon embarrassment by docking the ship in a Syrian port and not a Lebanese one.”
The US previously warned that any Iranian fuel ship that brings fuel for Lebanon would equate to “providing Hezbollah with funds.”
Dorothy Shea, US ambassador to Lebanon, informed Lebanon President Michel Aoun “of the US administration’s decision to help Lebanon obtain electricity from Jordan via Syria.” The plan would provide Egyptian natural gas to Jordan that can be transmitted to Lebanon via Syria.
She said: “Lebanon does not need Iranian ships,” and questioned whether “it was possible to count on Hezbollah to fairly distribute the fuel.”
According to Hezbollah, the Iranian diesel shipment “will be donated.”
The group said it will aid “governmental hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, municipalities that handle the task of pumping water, fire brigades and the Lebanese Red Cross.”
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