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World News

U.S. to sanction leader of Lebanon's Free Patriotic Movement - WSJ

FILE PHOTO: Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic movement, speaks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon October 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

(Reuters) - The United States is planning to sanction prominent Lebanese Christian politician Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, which was founded by the president and is allied with Hezbollah, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is expected on Friday to impose the sanctions on Bassil for assisting the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, the newspaper reported on.wsj.com/34ZGJYm, citing sources.

The U.S. Department of Treasury did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular working hours.

Bassil and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States deems Iranian-backed Hezbollah to be a terrorist group. It has sanctioned several Hezbollah members.

Bassil, the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun and head of FPM, Lebanon’s largest Christian political bloc, is also a former foreign minister.

In September, the United States blacklisted two former Lebanese government ministers it accused of enabling Hezbollah.

It accused a former transport minister, Yusuf Finyanus, and a former finance minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, of engaging in corruption and leveraging their political power for financial gain.

Well-armed Hezbollah has risen to become the overarching power in Lebanon, which is now grappling with a financial meltdown.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Laila Bassam in Beirut; Editing by Robert Birsel

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