Hezbollah Leader Brushes Off U.S. Concerns Over Appointed Cabinet Members

In response to U.S. alarm over Hezbollah's presence in Lebanon's new cabinet, the group's leader reassures Washington that it's ministers will not use their power to serve the group's agenda

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasralla, who is seen speaking through a video link in Teir Debba village, south Lebanon, Thursday, February 16, 2017.
Mohammad Zaatari,AP

The head of Lebanon's Hezbollah is brushing off U.S. concerns about the health minister his group named to the new government, calling the official a "trusted brother" who will serve all Lebanese.

Hassan Nasrallah stressed Monday that Jamil Jabbak is not a member of the militant group, which Washington sanctions as a terrorist organization. He is one of three ministers named by the group.

The new government was formed last week after a nearly nine-month deadlock. Jabbak was Nasrallah's personal physician at one point.

Washington urged the government to ensure that Hezbollah does not benefit from its resources.

Nasrallah vowed never to use state funds for its benefit, citing the group's "religious and legal obligations" guarantee against abuse of public funds.

"This is a ministry for all the Lebanese people," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech. 

The U.S. State Department urged the new Lebanese cabinet last week to ensure resources do not go to Hezbollah, after the group assumed three seats, including naming the health minister.