TRIPOLI, Lebanon: At least six of eight Lebanese fishermen were safely back in Lebanon Saturday evening after they were earlier in the day by the Syrian coast guard and several shells from the Syrian side of the border fell into several north Lebanon villages.
In a statement, the Lebanese Army said Syria’s coast guard detained in the morning eight fishermen off the coast of Arida, north Lebanon, adding that the military was working on securing their release.
Security sources told The Daily Star that a group of fishermen came under fire by a Syrian patrol boat at around 8:00 a.m. and were then led out of Lebanese territory toward a Syrian naval base.
According to the sources, the boat was nearing the Syrian side of the Nahr al-Kabir River which forms the northern border between Syria and Lebanon.
The sources identified five of the detained fishermen as Ali Hussein Merhi, Mohammad Hazem Shtaywi and his two brothers Bilal and Talal, as well as Ghazi Ali Mrashi.
At least six of the fisherman were released later in the day and transferred to Tripoli’s Serail.
The two remaining crew members remain in Syria but are expected to be rejoin their relatives in Lebanon at a later time.
Residents had earlier blocked the Aida border crossing between Lebanon and Syria to protest the detention of the Lebanese nationals.
The Syrian coast guard has taken actions against Lebanese fishermen in recent months.
Earlier this year, the Syrian coast guard killed a Lebanese fisherman after opening fire on a fishing trawler carrying a crew of three.
Syrian forces also opened fire on two Lebanese fishing boats in August 2012. There were no casualties.
The families of the two remaining fisherman waited Saturday at the Arida border crossing with Syria for the return of their loved ones.
Also Saturday, at least three shells from the Syrian side of the border fell into the northern villages of Hakr, Jenin and Kishlak.