BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 23 (UPI) -- Hezbollah criticized Europe's decision to blacklist its military wing, calling it aggressive and unjust, and saying there was no evidence to support it.
"It looks as if the decision was written by American hands with Israeli ink. The EU only had to add its signature in approval," the Shiite Islamic militant group said in a statement reported by The (Beirut) Daily Star Tuesday.
In Brussels, the European Union's 28 foreign ministers voted unanimously Monday to declare Hezbollah's military wing a terrorist organization. The decision received strong international praise, with many countries, including the United States and Israel, lauding the move.
Hezbollah accused the European Union of succumbing to "blackmail from the U.S." The decision "does not in any way echo the interests of the people of the EU and goes against the principles of the European people, which are supportive of freedom and independence," the statement said.
Prior to the EU decision, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman cautioned the European body against blacklisting Hezbollah for the sake of stability in Lebanon, the Lebanese newspaper said.
"We will follow up the issue via diplomatic channels and we wish the EU countries had conducted a careful review of the facts and additional data," The Daily Star quoted Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, as saying.
The United States and Britain pressed for the listing following a 2012 terrorist attack in Bulgaria in which five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver were killed, and a March conviction of a Hezbollah operative in Cyprus for planning a similar attack. Support to sanction Hezbollah has risen in recent months because of its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and the fact that hundreds of its operatives are fighting with regime loyalists in the country.