Lebanons Hezbollah group on Friday strongly rejected the British governments move to ban it as a terrorist organization, calling it an insult to the Lebanese people and evidence of subservience to the United States.
In a statement issued in Beirut, it stressed that Hezbollah is a resistance movement against Israeli occupation but also a political and popular force with representatives in the Lebanese parliament and government.
The British government by adopting this decision has insulted the feelings, emotions and will of the Lebanese people which consider Hezbollah to be a significant political and popular force and granted it large representation in parliament and in the new government, the statement said.
It was the first comment by the Iran-backed group on Britains move earlier this week to ban Hezbollah as a terrorist group, accusing it of further destabilizing the Middle East.
The British governments decision means being a member of, or inviting support for, Hezbollah will be a criminal offense, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Until now, the military wing of the Lebanon-based group has been outlawed in Britain, but not its political arm.
The U.S. and others accuse the group of destabilizing the region through its military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assads government.
The Hezbollah statement added that the U.K. decision is proof that the British government is merely a puppet that does the bidding of its American masters.
No country in the world that embraces terrorism, funds and supports it has the right to accuse Hezbollah or any other resistance movement of being terrorist, it said.
The British ban comes as the United States is increasing its pressure on Hezbollah, placing several sets of sanctions on the group and its regional backer, Iran.
Last week, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon described what she labeled as Hezbollahs growing role in the new Lebanese Cabinet as a threat to the countrys stability. U.S. officials have also expressed concern that Hezbollah will exploit the ministries it runs to funnel money to fund the groups operations.