Bodies of three Lebanese sisters wash up in Syria

Syria on Sunday returned to Lebanon the bodies of three Lebanese sisters that have washed up on its northern shores after they had gone missing from their village, state media said.

The sisters went missing from their home in Bziza village, northern Lebanon, on Monday, a Lebanese security official said earlier.

Syria’s interior ministry said they found the bodies of “three young women appearing to be in their twenties or thirties”, washed up on a beach in the port city of Tartus.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the Lebanese foreign ministry had reached out to authorities in Damascus “to verify their identity”.

The identification was initially made thanks to pictures posted on Facebook by their family, and a forensic examination undertaken in Syria determined they had drowned three days earlier.

The father of the three women later confirmed their identities and their bodies had been handed over to Lebanese authorities on Sunday, SANA said.

The Lebanese security official said it was not clear how they ended up in the sea, and that their bodies had likely been carried by the current north into Syrian waters.

The family of the sisters was being questioned in Lebanon, as part of a probe into their deaths.

Investigators are trying to determine if the sisters had been kidnapped for ransom, if they had tried to flee poverty-stricken Lebanon on boats as refugees, or if they had committed suicide, a security source said.

In recent months, dozens of Lebanese have boarded unsafe dinghies in a bid to flee Lebanon by sea, several not surviving the journey.

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