The family of three Lebanese smugglers has distanced itself from the kidnapping and ransoming of Syrian refugees carried out by its kin, calling on the Lebanese authorities to arrest and punish them, The Daily Star reported.
The Ghazi family, from the village of Rama in Wadi Khaled, north Lebanon, issued a statement Wednesday rejecting the criminal acts of three members of the family - who have been kidnapping Syrian refugees and ransoming them to the Syrian army as a means to compensate "poor business" across the border with Syria, whose three-year conflict has dented their smuggling activities.
The family's statement identified the three by their initials only but was unequivocal in its rejection of their acts.
"The family stresses that the kidnapping of Syrian refugees for handover to the Syrian authorities in exchange for a ransom does not reflect its values, but is an act of barbarism which it strongly denounces," the statement said.
It also called on the Lebanese authorities to act immediately to arrest the perpetrators and carry out the "most severe punishment," stressing that the family would not give them any cover.
Security sources said four Syrian refugees were kidnapped over the weekend by a three-man gang and turned over to the Syrian army across the border.
They said one member of the gang was arrested by security forces, while the remaining two, including the gang's leader, managed to escape.
According to the sources, the latest kidnapping brought the number of refugees who were lured by the culprits and handed over to the Syrian authorities to 12.
"They promise the refugees that they will smuggle them in and out of Syria, and once they are on the Syrian side of the border they hand them over," the sources said.
They said the smugglers received $1,000 for each person handed over, in addition to the $100 that the refugees paid for the "service provided."