A shipment of Iranian fuel organised for Lebanon by Hezbollah will set sail today, the group said, cautioning its US and Israeli foes against any moves to halt the consignment that it said aimed to ease an acute fuel crisis, Reuters reports.
Hezbollah's opponents in Lebanon warned of dire consequences from the move, with Sunni politician Saad Al-Hariri, a former prime minister, saying it risked sanctions being imposed on a country whose economy has been in meltdown for nearly two years.
There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese government.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said further shipments would follow to help the people of Lebanon.
"I say to the Americans and the Israelis that the boat that will sail within hours from Iran is Lebanese territory," Nasrallah said, suggesting that any action to stop it would be met with a response.
"We don't want to get… into a problem with anyone. We want to help our people," he said.
The arrival of Iranian fuel oil would mark a new phase in the financial crisis which the Lebanese state and its ruling factions, including Hezbollah, have failed to tackle even as poverty soars and shortages trigger deadly violence.
Nasrallah did not say how the shipment would be financed.
In June, he said Iran was prepared to accept payment in the Lebanese currency, which has lost more than 90 per cent of its value in two years.
Lebanon's worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war has hit a crunch point, with hospitals, bakeries and other essential services being forced to shut or scale back due to power cuts and the acute scarcity of gasoline.
Nasrallah did not say when or where the shipment would dock.
"God willing, this ship and others will arrive safely," Nasrallah said in a televised address.