The Lebanese Internal Security Forces arrested 96 Syrian nationals in the Bekaa for allegedly entering Lebanon illegally, alongside three alleged people smugglers, an ISF statement reported Saturday.
At around 4 a.m. in the western Bekaa town of Suweiri, an ISF patrol detained 73 Syrian nationals, of which 27 were children, 21 women and 25 men.
Later at 5 a.m., a patrol in Barr Elias stopped a Volkswagen van with a fake license plate, and arrested 11 Syrian nationals on board, along with the driver, a Syrian national identified as H.F., who did not have identification papers, the statement said.
At 6 a.m., a patrol stopped a Sangyong van with 12 Syrians on board on the Deir Zanoun–Riyaq highway. The driver, a Lebanese national identified as G.M., and his assistant M.A., were arrested for alleged people smuggling.
In 2015, the Lebanese government barred the U.N. refugee agency from registering Syrian refugees and placed additional restrictions on their entry into the country without guarantors, work visas or visas for transit.
The tightened measures led to a rise in the number of Syrian refugees attempting to enter Lebanon irregularly. As a result, the Army and security forces have been trying to crack down on smuggling in areas close to the border with Syria.