Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing in the United States Department of the Treasury Marshal Billingslea attends a meeting in Beirut, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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A senior U.S. official Thursday described Hezbollah as a "cancer" that must be removed, urging the Lebanese government not to include the party members in the new Cabinet.Billingslea's remarks came after the United States piled up pressure on Hezbollah with the designation of two more financial operators connected to the party with a pledge to sustain the tough measures to drain the cash resources of the organization. But Billingslea suggested that banning Hezbollah in any future government is left to the U.S. State Department.Wednesday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed additional sanctions on Hezbollah's leadership, targeting five of its top officials, including Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem.Billingslea made it abundantly clear that the U.S. Treasury does not discriminate between the political and military wings of Hezbollah and this includes the party's lawmakers themselves.Billingslea emphasized that the U.S. Treasury was counting on Salameh and his team to protect the financial sector by working with the bankers.Billingslea admitted that Hezbollah is apparently able to transfer part of its money outside the official Lebanese banking system.
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