Hezbollah has begun bringing Iranian fuel into Lebanon via Syria, a move the Shi’ite Muslim group says should ease a crippling energy crisis but which opponents say risks provoking US sanctions.
A convoy of trucks carrying Iranian fuel oil entered northeastern Lebanon near the village of al-Ain, where Hezbollah’s yellow flag fluttered from lampposts.
“Thank you Iran. Thank you Assad’s Syria,” declared a banner, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV said a convoy of around 20 trucks had crossed into Lebanon.
The trucks sounded their horns as they passed through al-Ain as people watched on. Some waved Hezbollah’s flag, while a woman and boy threw petals at one vehicle.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah has said the ship carrying the fuel docked in Syria on Sunday after being told going to Lebanon could risk sanctions.
Washington has reiterated that US sanctions on Iranian oil sales remain in place. But it has not said whether it is considering taking any action over the move by Hezbollah, which it designates a terrorist group.
The Lebanese government has said its permission was not sought to import the fuel.
The move marks an expansion of Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon, where critics have long accused the heavily armed group of acting as a state within the state.