VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) —
Lithuania on Thursday designated the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group as a terrorist organization and issued a 10-year ban on all individuals related to the Iran-backed group from entering the Baltic nation’s territory.
“After receiving valuable information from our foreign partners, we can assume that Hezbollah is functioning on the principles of terrorist organization,” Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said.
Linkevicius added, without elaborating, that some persons with the Iran-backed organization also pose threat to Lithuania’s national security.
Hezbollah emerged as a ragtag guerrilla group in the 1980s, funded by Iran to battle Israeli troops occupying southern Lebanon. A protracted guerrilla war, characterized by roadside bombs and sniper attacks, eventually forced Israel to withdraw in May 2000. With the exception of an inconclusive, monthlong war in 2006, the volatile frontier has largely remained calm.
The U.S. and Israel, along with Britain, Germany, the Arab League and Gulf Arab states have also designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The European Union has only designated the group’s military wing as terrorist, in the aftermath of an attack on a tourist bus in Bulgaria in 2012.