Al-Ain (Lebanon) (AFP)

Dozens of tankers carrying Iranian fuel and transported by Hezbollah arrived Wednesday morning from Syria in Lebanon, in the grip of severe fuel shortages, according to an AFP correspondent.

In August, the leader of the pro-Iran Shiite movement, Hassan Nasrallah, announced the departure of a first Iranian ship loaded with fuel destined for Lebanon, promising that others would follow, as the Lebanese state, in bankruptcy and short of foreign currency, difficulty in importing.

A first convoy of 20 tankers, bearing Syrian license plates, entered Lebanese territory on Wednesday via an illegal passage in the region of Hermel (east), said the AFP correspondent on the spot.

On either side of the road, women threw ulueus along with rice and rose petals while men waved Shiite party flags.

- Shots of joy -

Images circulating on social media showed men firing rockets into the air, as gunfire rang out as tankers passed.

A total of 80 tankers, with a total capacity of four million liters, were due to arrive in Lebanon on Thursday.

Iranian fuel tankers transported by Hezbollah arrive from Syria to Hermel on September 16, 2021 in Lebanon - AFP

They will unload their cargoes in Baalbeck in the tanks of service stations held by Hezbollah and targeted since February 2020 by American sanctions, before being distributed on the market, in order of priority.

"It is humanitarian aid that meets the needs of the population and producers of bread, flour and basic necessities," said Jawad, 50, a resident of Hermel.

Hezbollah "will not take the place of the state, it is a temporary measure until the state can assume its functions", he adds, in allusion to the criticisms leveled by the Lebanese at the address of the party, accusing it of establishing a state within a state and exposing Lebanon to the risk of economic sanctions.

Sworn enemy of the United States and Israel and targeted by sanctions, Hezbollah is a heavyweight in Lebanese political life.

Since the fall of 2019, Lebanon has been living at the rate of an unprecedented crisis, described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world since 1850.

The country has also seen its national currency lose more than 90% of its value against the dollar on the black market.

The value of the Lebanese pound has, however, improved slightly since the new government was formed last Friday, after a 13-month vacuum that exacerbated the crisis.

Iranian fuel tankers transported by Hezbollah arrive from Syria to Hermel on September 16, 2021 in Lebanon - AFP

According to the site lirarate.org, the rate rose from 18,000 to 14,000 pounds to the dollar on the black market.

The arrival of Iranian fuel comes almost a week after an agreement reached between the energy ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon for the delivery of Egyptian gas and electricity from Jordan via Syria, despite the American sanctions targeting the Syrian power.

© 2021 AFP

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