U.S. sanctions Lebanese businessman, his companies over Hezbollah links

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday issued new Hezbollah-related sanctions, designating Lebanese businessman and the Iran-backed group's financial facilitator, Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah, and his companies.

Abdallah, five of his associates and eight of his companies in Lebanon and Iraq were sanctioned and added to the sanctions list of the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, the department said.

Abdallah is a Hezbollah official and an active member of its global financial network, according to the Treasury. He has supported Hezbollah for decades, carrying out commercial activities in various countries where the profits are transferred to the Iran-backed group, the department said.

Founded in 1982 by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and classified by the United States and other Western countries as a "terrorist organization," Hezbollah is a powerful group in Lebanon because of a heavily armed militia that fought several wars with Israel. It grew stronger after joining the war in Syria in 2012 in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States said Abdallah used his senior employees and relatives to establish new businesses throughout the Middle East on behalf of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah on Sunday faced an electoral setback when the group and its allies lost their parliamentary majority in elections in Lebanon.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)