Lebanese news outlet al-Akhbar reported on 2 September that the first of three oil tankers carrying Iranian fuel for Lebanon has entered Syrian territorial waters.
The ship is expected to dock at a Syrian port where the fuel will be unloaded onto tanker trucks before being carried the rest of the way to Lebanon – this as part of a strategy to circumvent US economic sanctions.
Two other oil tankers carrying Iranian fuel will use the same mechanism, while a fourth ship is also expected to depart Iran soon.
The delivery of Iranian fuel to cash-strapped Lebanon was arranged by Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah in a bid to mitigate the country’s worsening crisis.
Over the last few months, rolling blackouts and severe fuel shortages have become the norm across Lebanon, with citizens having access on average to two hours of electricity per day.
Hospitals in particular have been warning of their imminent shutdown, with reports indicating that the first shipment of Iranian fuel to arrive in Lebanon is mainly set to restock the hospitals’ fuel supplies.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced on 19 August the imminent arrival of the Iranian fuel. He also warned Israel and the US that once the ships set off, they will be considered “Lebanese territory.”
Meanwhile the US ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, has said Lebanon “doesn’t need” the Iranian fuel, while former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said the delivery of the fuel risks further sanctions for the nation.