BEIRUT — The Internal Security Forces (ISF) announced Thursday that it had arrested several individuals in northern Lebanon who were operating as part of a network to smuggle Syrians into the country.
The arrests took place on Sunday at a police checkpoint on the road between the localities of Muhammara and Abdeh, in Akkar, according to an ISF press release.
The police seized five vans and arrested those aboard them: 79 Syrians who had entered the country illegally, as well as two Syrians, three Lebanese and two undocumented migrants suspected of organizing the border crossing.
The ISF adds that when questioned by the police, 13 of the illegal entrants to Lebanon said they wanted to reach the coast in an attempt to reach Europe by sea.
At the end of April, Najib Mikati's caretaker cabinet introduced a series of measures against Syrian refugees, calling on the security forces to prevent any illegal entry.
Lebanese authorities estimate that the country currently hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, 815,000 of whom are registered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).