The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on seven businesses and six people Friday that aim to disrupt the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group.
The Treasury Department said the sanctions are "the first wave" of penalties designed to weaken Hezbollah financier Adham Tabaja, who has been designated by the U.S. as a global terrorist, by targeting companies based in Lebanon, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It said the companies support Tabaja by developing "conduits" of funding for Hezbollah.
The Treasury Department sanctioned five Lebanese and one Iraqi, most of whom were associated with Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting, a company headquartered in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
The agency said in a statement Hezbollah is a terrorist group that is "responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans" and is a key proxy Iran uses to weaken Arab countries in the Middle East. Administration officials estimate Iran sends about $700 million annually to the militant group.
"The Treasury Department will continue to sever Hezbollah from the international financial system, and we will be relentless in identifying, exposing, and dismantling Hezbollah's financial support networks globally," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Hezbollah was formed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 1982 in response to Israel's invasion of Beirut and has since become an influential member of Lebanon's coalition government.
The Trump administration has slapped sanctions on Hezbollah before and officials said more are forthcoming after a U.S. investigation concluded there were "dozens" of other financial networks linked to the militant group.