BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Monday the first vessel carrying Iranian fuel oil for Lebanon has arrived in Syria's Baniyas and will be transported by land to the country Thursday.
Nasrallah thanked Syrian authorities for receiving the shipment in their ports and for facilitating its transfer to Lebanon.
"We were told that the arrival of the vessel here (in Lebanon) would harm the country and we don't want to harm the country so we went for another option," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Nasrallah said a second vessel is set to arrive in Syria in a few days, while a third ship carrying gasoline should be leaving Iran soon.
Daily life has been almost paralysed as fuel dries up because Lebanon lacks the dollars to pay for it.
The state-owned power company is generating only minimal electricity, leaving businesses and households almost entirely dependent on small, private generators that run on fuel oil.
A financial crisis has wiped 90 percent off the value of the Lebanese pound since 2019, pushed food prices up by more than 550 percent, and propelled three-quarters of the population into poverty. The World Bank has called it one of the deepest depressions of modern history.
Nasrallah said a second ship with fuel oil would arrive in the Syrian port of Baniyas in a few days, with a third and fourth, respectively carrying gasoline and fuel oil, also due.
"We could have got a whole fleet of vessels ... but we didn't because we don't want to aggravate anyone," he said.
Hezbollah's opponents in Lebanon say the purchase risks bringing down sanctions on a country already on its last legs, especially as Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
The Donald Trump administration announced in 2018 that it aimed to reduce Iran's oil sales to zero after withdrawing from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six global powers.
For its part, the United States is backing an effort to address Lebanon's power shortages by bringing in Egyptian gas via Jordan and Syria.
Nasrallah also praised an official trip by Lebanese officials to Damascus this month to try to bring that about.
He said the first Iranian fuel oil shipment would go to government hospitals, orphanages and old people's homes for free. It would be sold in Lebanese pounds to private hospitals, bakeries, municipalities and power generators operated in villages and neighborhoods.
"Our aim is not trade or profit," he said. "Our aim is to alleviate the suffering of the people."