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Pompeo Says U.S. Has ‘Obligation’ to Remove Iran’s Influence in Venezuela: ‘Hezbollah Has Active Cells’

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of Iran’s influence in Venezuela in an interview Wednesday, suggesting there are active Hezbollah cells in the country.

“People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells — the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America,” Pompeo said on Fox Business show Trish Regan Primetime. “We have an obligation to take down that risk for America.”

As the political crisis in Venezuela deepens, a standoff has been established between socialist President Nicolás Maduro, whose corrupt rule of the country has created a refugee crisis, and his U.S.-backed challenger Juan Guaidó, who recently declared himself interim president during mass protests.

While Guaidó receives support from the United States and Europe, Maduro’s regime remains funded by China, armed by Russia and supported by Hezbollah — the Iran-backed Lebanese Islamist movement that the U.S. has long considered a terrorist group. The U.S. has accused officials in the Venezuelan government of ties to Hezbollah, resulting in sanctions.

The ties between Venezuela and Iran date back to the previous regime of Hugo Chavez — who built close ties to Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and have continued between current leaders Maduro and Hassan Rouhani.

Pompeo called Maduro “evil” in his Fox Business interview. “We should not permit a country in our hemisphere to treat its own people this way,” he said. “American values, not only our interests but our values, are at stake here.”

Watch above, via Fox Business.

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: [email protected] Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin