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Hezbollah ‘has European weapons stores including explosives’

Hezbollah operatives have moved ammonium nitrate – which caused the Beirut disaster (pictured) – through Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland since 2012, the US claimed last night.

Hezbollah has stores of weapons across Europe including the explosive chemical that blew up Beirut, the US government claimed last night.

Hezbollah operatives have moved ammonium nitrate through Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland since 2012, the State Department said as it ramped up the pressure on Europe to ban the Iran-backed group.

Counter-terrorism official Nathan Sales said Hezbollah had been smuggling the substance in first-aid kits, with ammonium nitrate hidden in cold packs.

The fertiliser can be used to make explosives and can be highly dangerous in storage – as demonstrated by the Beirut blast which killed nearly 200 people and devastated huge swathes of the city last month.

The disaster in Beirut on August 4, when a stash of ammonium nitrate exploded and devastated huge swathes of the Lebanese capital

The US government issued the warning on Thursday night as it appealed to Europe to ban the organisation, which has long been under US sanctions.

Washington differs with the EU by regarding all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, while Brussels distinguishes between its political and military wings.

‘Why would Hezbollah stockpile ammonium nitrate on European soil?’ Sales said. ‘The answer is clear: Hezbollah put these weapons in place so it could conduct major terrorist attacks whenever it or its masters in Tehran deemed necessary.’

Hezbollah’s stores of ammonium nitrate are believed to be still in place around Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy and Spain, the US government says.

The elected arm of Hezbollah has been part of Lebanese governments in recent years which were widely blamed for the August 4 disaster.

Some individual countries including Britain and Germany have outlawed the group in its entirety.

But France, the former colonial power in Lebanon which is leading reconstruction efforts in Beirut, says Hezbollah’s political arm has a legitimate role.

That has led to pressure from the US,…

By Tim Stickings For Mailonline

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