WASHINGTON - The US Treasury sanctioned the leader of the Lebanese terrorist group and political movement Hezbollah on Thursday for helping Syria crush anti-government protests, as well as two other members for the group's "terrorist activities" in general.

Sanctions experts described the move against Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as largely symbolic because the penalties - freezing any assets he holds in US banks - had been imposed under earlier US sanctions.

The Treasury said it had "designated" Nasrallah under US Executive Order 13582, signed by US President Barack Obama in August 2011 in part to crack down on those helping Syria repress the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule.

More than 27,000 people are believed to have died in the 17-month-old conflict.

The Treasury also said it sanctioned two other Hezbollah members: Mustafa Amine Badreddine, who has been accused by a UN tribunal in the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, and a man it identified as Talal Hamiya, the head of Hezbollah's external security organization.

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