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France reportedly backs designating Hezbollah militiamen as terrorists

PARIS (JTA) — The French government supports adding the armed wing of Hezbollah to the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, an Arabic daily reported.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of Paris’ decision at a meeting on Wednesday, the London-based Al Hayat daily reported Friday.

According to the report, the French government endorsed the designation following the finding by Bulgarian authorities that Hezbollah was responsible for the terrorist attack last summer on a busload of Israeli tourists in the Black Sea resort town of Burgas, Bulgaria, and because of the support Hezbollah is providing to the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Burgas attack last July killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian. Earlier this month, a court in Cyprus convicted a Lebanese-Swedish man of plotting to kill Israelis for Hezbollah. Hossam Taleb Yaacoub was sentenced to four years in jail on Thursday. 

Earlier this week, Bahrain declared the Lebanese group a terrorist organization and called on other Persian Gulf nations to follow suit.

Until now, the European Union has resisted American and Israeli pressure to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. The only country in the European Union that has declared Hezbollah a terrorist entity is the Netherlands. The U.K. considers only Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist body.

Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency said Hezbollah routinely launders money in Europe. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said in its annual threat report for 2012 that Hezbollah had 950 supporters in Germany.

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