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Washington sets bounty on leaders of Hezbollah

WASHINGTON

The United States has offered multimillion-dollar rewards on two officials of the Lebanese group Hezbollah as the Trump administration prepared to unveil a new strategy to control the group’s influence.

Washington will pay up to $7 million for information leading to the arrest of Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah’s foreign operations, and up to $5 million for Fuad Shukr, a top Hezbollah military operative, the State Department said.

The rewards are the first offered by the United States for Hezbollah operatives in a decade, Nathan Sales, the US counterterrorism coordinator, told reporters.

“Today’s rewards are another step to increase the pressure on them and their organisation,” said Sales.

Other extremists for whom the US is offering rewards include Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the head of the Daish group, and Mohammad Jolani, the commander of Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch. Hamiyah has been on the department’s foreign terrorist list since 2015 and Shukr was added in 2013.

Nicholas Rasmussen, the head of the National Counter-terrorism Centre, blamed the group for a litany of attacks around the world, and said it maintains a presence in “nearly every corner of the globe”.

Pointing to the arrests of two men in the US in June for alleged activities on Hezbollah’s behalf, Rasmussen said that US intelligence agencies assess that the group is seeking an ability to strike inside “the homeland”.

Reuters