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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference to discuss "efforts to reduce violent crime" at the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has set up a team to investigate individuals and organizations providing support to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Islamist group in Lebanon that the U.S. has branded a terrorist organisation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday.
Republicans have criticized former President Barack Obama following a December Politico report that the Obama administration hindered a Drug Enforcement Administration programme targeting Hezbollah's trafficking operations during its negotiation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Republican President Donald Trump says Obama gave away too much to Iran to secure the agreement, which gives Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
Sessions said the Justice Department will assemble leading investigators and prosecutors for the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team to ensure all investigations under the DEA programme, called Project Cassandra, will be completed.
"The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis," Sessions said.
(Reporting by Blake Brittain; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Bernadette Baum)