Brussels: The European Union formally listed
the armed wing of the powerful Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist entity Friday, paving the way for sanctions.
The EU`s Official Journal -- the bloc`s record of decisions and their implementation -- added the "Hezbollah Military Wing" to the list of 11 persons and 25 groups deemed to be involved in terrorist activity.
The listing will most likely result in an assets freeze but analysts have warned it may be virtually impossible in practice to distinguish between Hezbollah`s military and political wings.
Others on the list include Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza, Colombian rebel group FARC, Peru`s Shining Path and the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing.
EU foreign ministers, pushed hard by Britain, agreed on the move at a meeting on Monday despite misgivings by several member states that it would add to the pressures on an already fragile Lebanon.
To meet these concerns, ministers agreed that the blacklisting of Hezbollah would not "affect legitimate financial transfers to Lebanon and the delivery of assistance, including humanitarian assistance," the Official Journal said.
The Lebanese government last week had called on the EU not to list Hezbollah which it said played a key role in the country.
Hezbollah describes itself as a resistance movement against Israel, which occupied south Lebanon until 2000. It plays a dominant role in Lebanese politics and is part of the government.
In 2006, Hezbollah and Israel fought a 33-day war in which 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers were killed.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday that the decision means the EU will share responsibility for any future Israeli attack on Lebanon.