BEIRUT: The Lebanese army arrested 134 migrants near the northern border with Syria on Saturday after foiling their attempt to take a boat to Europe, it said in a statement.
The group of would-be migrants -- made up of 130 Syrians and four Lebanese nationals -- were taken into custody in the coastal town of Sheikh Zennad, in Akkar province, the army statement said.
The army said it also detained "the mastermind behind the operation" who was a Lebanese national.
In a separate statement, Lebanese armed forces said they had arrested 150 Syrians who had crossed into Lebanon illegally in another part of Akkar province.
Lebanon is mired in what the World Bank describes as one of the worst economic crises in modern history.
The economic collapse has turned the country into a launchpad for migrants, with its own citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees clamouring to leave by taking dangerous sea routes.
Authorities say Lebanon currently hosts around two million Syrians, while more than 800,000 are registered with the United Nations -- the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.
Migrants departing from Lebanon head for Europe, with one of the of the main destinations being Cyprus, only 175 kilometres (110 miles) away.
In September 2022, at least 100 bodies were recovered after a boat carrying migrants from Lebanon sank off Syria's coast.
In December 2022, two migrants died and around 200 were rescued when their boat sank off Lebanon's northern coast.