Nasrallah denies accusations of Hizballah drug trafficking
The leader of Lebanon's Hizballah militant group has categorically dismissed allegations that it is involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.
Hassan Nasrallah issued the statement on Friday in response to US Attorney General Jeff Session's announcement last week that Justice Department prosecutors would investigate allegations that Hizballah is involved in drug running.
The move follows reports that Obama administration officials thwarted drug prosecutions related to Hizballah for fear of jeopardising a nuclear deal with Iran.
Speaking at a party event, Nasrallah said the allegations were "completely baseless", adding the group considers such dealings forbidden by Islamic law.
Hizballah - classed as a terrorist organisation in several parts of the world - has repeatedly denied accusations that it is involved in drug trafficking. Nasrallah said such claims come in the context of the west's war against his group.
Earlier this month the US Justice Department announced the launch of a special task force to investigate what it called "narcoterrorism" by Hizballah.
The unit will comprise specialists on money-laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism and organised crime, targeting Iran ally Hizballah's sprawling network, whose reach extends across Africa and into Central and South America, the department announced on Thursday.
"The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organisations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organisations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations."
Officials in Washington and US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, have increasingly raised the alarm over Hizballah's growing power in Lebanon and around the world.
Hizballah has been accused of playing a detrimental role in the Syrian conflict.
Nasrallah has been criticised for backing President Bashar al-Assad, a man blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians since peaceful protests began in 2011, leading to armed revolts.