U.S. accuses Chinese firms of buying drones for Hezbollah

Treasury officials on Thursday imposed sanctions on three companies, two based in China and one in Lebanon, accused of being fronts used to obtain technology and equipment to build drones for Hezbollah.

Another Chinese company and its owner were sanctioned for procuring electronic components used by Yemen's Houthi rebels to build roadside bombs. The rebels are fighting a Saudi-led intervention aimed at restoring the internationally recognized government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

"Hizballah is a dangerous, destabilizing terrorist group, and Treasury is determined to maintain maximum pressure on this organization by targeting its many revenue streams," Adam Szubin, the acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement, using one of the alternate spellings for the Islamist militant group. "Today's action highlights Hizballah's exploitation of the commercial sector to support its military capabilities and facilitate acts of terrorism."

Drones are a particularly dangerous addition to Hezbollah's arsenal, dating back to the first ones obtained from Iran in 2004. The Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia regularly sends flights into Israel, including an October 2012 mission aimed at Israel's nuclear complex at Dimona that may have been able to capture images of the site. The group also has used the remotely-piloted aircraft to attack Syrian rebel bases on behalf of the government of President Bashar Assad.

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