BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Hezbollah says U.S. sanctions against two lawmakers from his group are an offense to Lebanese state institutions which would need to defend themselves.

For the first time, U.S. Treasury targeted currently seated Hezbollah lawmakers, saying they are suspected of using their positions to further the aims of the Iran-backed group and bolster Tehran's "malign activities."

Hassan Nasrallah, in a wide ranging interview late Friday, said such tactics won't sideline the group, because Hezbollah is a "big force" that represents large segments of society and has widely popular elected officials.

Nasrallah said his group is a "main source of Lebanon's strength" when asked if the Lebanese state would yield to pressure amid threats of more sanctions. He said the sanctions would only add to the group's resilience.

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