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Saudi Arabia Urges Citizens To Avoid Lebanon Amid Spat With Iran

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain warned their citizens against visiting or staying in Lebanon amid a deepening dispute with Iran and its allies in the Mediterranean nation.

The two Gulf nations said their citizens are not safe in Lebanon because the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shi'ite militia has armed militants there. The United Arab Emirates went a step further and said it was banning its nationals from visiting Lebanon.

The moves to evacuate citizens comes after Saudi Arabia suspended $3 billion in aid to Lebanese armed forces last weekbecause Beirut had not condemned the sacking of Saudi diplomatic facilities in Iran.

Saudi Arabia has sanctioned Hezbollah, which has been fighting in support of Syria's regime with Iran's backing in the five-year Syrian civil war.

Saudi Arabia supports rebels opposed to Syria's government. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah last week accused Turkey and Saudi Arabia of dragging the region into war, and said "victory" was imminent for his group and its Syrian ally.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters