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Iran cuts Hezbollah funds, Israel says

Iran cuts Hezbollah funds, Israel says
Members of the Basij volunteer militia established by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini wave Hezbollah and Iran's national flags as they attend a rally on Al-Quds day (Jerusalem Day) in Tehran, Iran on September 27, 2008. Jerusalem Day, an annual day of protest decreed in 1979 by Khomeini saw people across the Middle East demand that the holy city be returned to Palestinian control. (UPI Photo/Mohammad Kheirkhah) | License Photo

JERUSALEM, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Economic sanctions in Iran mean the Islamic republic had to cut funding for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli intelligence assessments state.

Tehran cut its funding to Hezbollah by more than 40 percent in part because of pressure from international sanctions, The Jerusalem Post reports.

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Iran usually gives Hezbollah about $1 billion per year in direct military aid that the Shiite resistance movement used to buy weapons and set up military positions in Lebanon, the report added.

According to intelligence reports, the budget cuts are coupled with tensions between top officials in Hezbollah and members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps over key leadership issues.

Israel, meanwhile, is bracing for the fallout from a pending indictment by a special tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hezbollah is widely expected to be implicated in the plot, though the group says it has evidence linking Israel to the slaying.

Israeli officials, the Post said, are more fearful that Hezbollah will try to overthrow the government in Beirut than they are of a military assault similar to the 34-day war in 2006.

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