- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 10, 2019

BEIRUT (AP) - The leader of the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah on Wednesday called the U.S. decision to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization “stupidity,” and warned that the group and its allies may respond to further escalation.

Hassan Nasrallah said the Trump administration’s decision reflects the “failure” of its policies in the region and confirms the growing influence of and support for the Iranian group.

The Guard is the main backer for Hezbollah, which plays an influential role in the Lebanese government and has already been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S.

It is the first time that Washington has designated an entity of another government as a terrorist organization. Nasrallah said the move set a “precedent.”

Speaking to his supporters in a speech broadcast on a large screen in Beirut, Nasrallah said “So far we have not reacted. … This doesn’t mean we have no important power cards.”

He said if there were to be an escalation from Washington against the group and its allies that “threatens our people, nation and our principle issues,” simply issuing a condemnation of U.S. actions would not suffice. A confrontation, then, would be a “duty” in all the fronts that the U.S. has targeted, he said. He did not elaborate.

“Our hands are open and our options are also open,” he said.

Designating the Guard as a terrorist organization could also significantly complicate U.S. military and diplomatic work, notably in Iraq and Lebanon.

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