Officials: 10 Syrians Die of Cold Trying to Flee into Lebanon

The Lebanese Army retrieves the body of a Syrian near the Masnaa border crossing. Photo: Lebanese Civil Defense

Ten Syrians have died trying to flee their war-torn country into neighboring Lebanon after they were caught in a fierce snowstorm, the Lebanese army and civil defence said Friday.

“They died of the cold. They included two children, six women and two men,” said Georges Abou Moussa, head of operations at the Lebanese civil defence.

He told AFP that rescue workers and Lebanese troops had retrieved the bodies together.

In a statement, the army said it had received a tip Friday morning that a group of Syrian refugees had got stuck in snow while trying to cross the mountainous frontier between the two countries.

“An army patrol found the bodies of nine refugees who died as a result of the snowstorm. It rescued six others, one of whom died in the hospital as a result of frostbite,” it said.

According to the statement, troops also arrested two Syrians who were involved in trying to smuggle the refugees across the border near Masnaa.

Lebanon, a country of four million, hosts just under a million Syrians who have sought refuge from the war raging in their neighbouring homeland since 2011.

Many live in informal tented settlements in the country’s east and struggle to stay warm in the winter.

Lebanon and Syria share a 330-kilometre (205 mile) border with no official demarcation at several points.

For several years after Syria’s uprising began, refugees flowed into Lebanon.

But Lebanese authorities introduced new restrictions in 2015 in order to curb the number of Syrians entering the country.