The Lebanese Army said Monday it has foiled an attempt to smuggle 60 Syrians by sea from the north of the country.
"A naval force unit stopped a boat detected by radar 10 nautical miles off the city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon on Sunday trying "to smuggle 60 people, 59 Syrians and one Lebanese,” the Army said in a statement.
Their intended destination was not specified but neighboring Cyprus is the most popular sea smuggling route.
The operation came few days after the Internal Security Forces arrested 51 Syrian citizens (39 adult males, 5 adult women, 7 Children) who planned to make the crossing to Cyprus from the coastal town of Anfeh al-Harisha.
Smuggling attempts have been on the rise in Lebanon, especially among Syrian refugees who do not hesitate to take the risky trip and often choose Cyprus as their destination.
Last Saturday, the ISF said it detained Syrians who confessed that they were waiting for a boat to take them from the Anfeh area towards Cyprus, noting that they had paid a smuggler $2,500 each.
The army has said it also stopped another 69 Syrians in the last week of April.
Lebanon, home to more than six million people, is just 160 kilometers from Cyprus.
As well as hosting more than one million refugees from war-torn Syria, Lebanon is grappling with its most severe economic crisis for decades.