A day after sanctions were imposed on networks allegedly helping Iran circumvent U.S. sanctions, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions against a Lebanese bank and individuals in Oman for financial links with Hezbollah and Hamas.
Powerful US financial sanctions were imposed on the Jammal Trust Bank in Lebanon, which was accused of acting as a key financial institution for Hezbollah.
Sanctions also targeted individuals in Oman who allegedly act as middlemen to funnel cash from Iran's elite Qods (Quds) Force to Hamas in Gaza.
The U.S. Treasury Department "is targeting Jammal Trust Bank and its subsidiaries for brazenly enabling Hezbollah's financial activities," including sending payments to families of suicide bombers, Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
She added the Oman-based financiers "funneled tens of millions of dollars... to Hamas for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip."
The sanctions ban any link with U.S. citizens or institutions, which is likely to severely curtail activities of the Lebanese bank.
In Beirut, the Association of Banks in Lebanon voiced "regret" over the US move -- while insisting all funds deposited with Jammal Trust Bank were safe and stressing the ability of the country's central bank to remedy the situation if need be.
Senior U.S. administration officials, speaking on condition of not being identified, told reporters that the two actions were above all meant to send a signal.
The sanction on Jammal bank "should be seen as a warning shot that Hezbollah and its Iranian puppet masters should keep their hands off Lebanese financial institutions," one official said, calling this part of a strategy to "choke off every last avenue of funding."
A third senior official called the sanctions a sign of the "gloves off approach" by President Donald Trump against Hezbollah.
"We will continue to target individuals and entities involved in financing and providing support to Hezbollah while working closely with the Central Bank of Lebanon and other Lebanese institutions which work to preserve the integrity and stability of Lebanon's banking system," the State Department said.