Lebanon's Hizbollah agrees to third shipment of Iranian fuel

In this photo taken on June 11, 2021, an employee fills a car with fuel at a petrol station in Beirut. PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (REUTERS) - The leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hizbollah group, Mr Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has said a third vessel of Iranian fuel was agreed to ease crippling shortages in the country.

"We have agreed to start loading a third vessel," Mr Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Friday (Aug 27). "The coming days will prove those doubtful about the shipments arriving with fuel wrong... and our words will be clear when the first vessel reaches Lebanon."

Last Sunday, Mr Nasrallah had said the first vessel carrying Iranian fuel for Lebanon had already departed.

Hizbollah's foes in Lebanon have warned of dire consequences from the purchase, saying it risked sanctions being imposed on a country whose economy has been in meltdown for nearly two years.

Prime Minister-desginate Najib Mikati said earlier on Friday in an interview with Saudi-owned Al Hadath television he was against anything that would harm Lebanon's interests but also asked critics of the Iranian fuel deals to provide help so that the country would not have to resort to them.

Mr Nasrallah blamed the country's economic crisis on what he called an economic siege by the United States, adding that so-called Caesar sanctions imposed by Washington on Syria had harmed Lebanon.

"Go ahead and give Lebanon an exemption for Iranian petrol and diesel... go ahead and give Lebanon an exemption from Caesar," Mr Nasrallah said, addressing the United States in his speech.

Lebanon's worsening fuel shortages reached a crunch point this month, threatening to bring daily life to a halt.

Mr Nasrallah also urged top politicians to stop debating names for the new Cabinet and urgently form a government.

"It is high time this debate now ends," he said.

Lebanon has been run by the caretaker government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who resigned with his Cabinet after a massive Beirut port blast ripped through the capital a year ago.

Mr Mikati is the third prime minister-desginate since then to attempt to form a government with President Michel Aoun, a Hizbollah ally.

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