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Hezbollah calls on supporters to donate as sanctions pressure bites

Hezbollah calls on supporters to donate as sanctions pressure bites
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gestures as he addresses his supporters via a screen during last day of Ashura, in Beirut, Lebanon September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo -
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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's Hezbollah on Friday called on its supporters to donate money as it comes under increasing pressure from Western sanctions intended to isolate it financially.

The United States deems all parts of Hezbollah a terrorist organisation and has been steadily increasing financial sanctions against the Iran-backed movement.

"I announce today that the resistance is in need of its (popular base)," Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, adding that donations were needed to support the group's activities.

The Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. It is also heavily armed and has sent fighters to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Britain last month said it would list all elements of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation for destabilising the Middle East, breaking with the rest of the European Union which proscribes only its military wing.

"The sanctions and the terror lists are a form of war ... we should deal with them as if they are a war," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

He called on Hezbollah supporters to remain steadfast in the face of these pressures and said the group's enemies would be "disappointed".

"Their actions will not be able to make us poor, hungry or isolated. Those that support us will continue in their support - be they countries, people or our people and the people of resistance in Lebanon," Nasrallah said.

Hezbollah was founded in 1982 by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Its influence has expanded at home in Lebanon and in the region.

The group controls three of 30 ministries in the Lebanese government led by Western-backed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the largest number ever. It does not acknowledge having separate political and military wings.

Hezbollah and political allies that view its arsenal as an asset to Lebanon won more than 70 of parliament's 128 seats in an election last year, a major blow to Lebanese parties that oppose its possession of weapons like the Christian Lebanese Forces, which enjoys close ties to U.S.-allied Gulf states.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington, Editing by William Maclean)

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