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hezbollah-in-black-paradeSaudi Arabia on Sunday said it will deport anyone sympathizing with the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group after the Arab League declared the movement as “terrorist,” Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

An Interior Ministry statement carried by the state news agency SPA said that Saudis and expatriates would be subjected to “severe penalties” under the kingdom’s regulations and anti-terrorism laws.

“Any citizen or resident who supports, shows membership in the so-called Hezbollah, sympathises with it or promotes it, makes donations to it or communicates with it or harbours anyone belonging to it will be subject to the stiff punishments provided by the rules and orders, including the terrorism crimes and its financing,” the statement said.

Hezbollah has close ties to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s bitter rival for power in the region. Saudi Arabia supports Syrian opposition groups to topple Assad and blames Iran and Hezbollah for helping him cling to power after five years of civil war.

The Arab League on Friday formally branded Hezbollah a terrorist organization, a move that raises concerns of deepening divisions among Arab countries and ramps up the pressure on the Shiite group, which is fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The Arab League’s decision followed the blacklisting of Hezbollah by Gulf states.

Al Arabiya/Reuters

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