Honduras detains five Syrians said headed to U.S. with stolen Greek passports

Honduran authorities have detained five Syrian nationals who were trying to reach the United States using stolen Greek passports, but there are no signs of any links to last week's attacks in Paris, police said.

The Syrian men were held late on Tuesday in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, on arrival from Costa Rica, and had been planning to head to the border with neighboring Guatemala. The passports had been doctored to replace the photographs with those of the Syrians, police said.

"We received information from (fellow) police services that these five Syrians left Greece and passed through Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and San Jose in Costa Rica before finally reaching Tegucigalpa," said Anibal Baca, spokesman for Honduras' police. "They are normal Syrians."

U.S. Republican lawmakers defied President Barack Obama on Wednesday and set out plans following last week's deadly Paris attacks to tighten screening of Syrian refugees.

Obama has pledged to take in 10,000 Syrians next year from the war-torn country. But his plan faces stiff resistance from Republicans, concerned some of the refugees could be associated with Islamic State.

Reports that at least one of the Paris attackers was believed to have slipped into Europe among migrants registered in Greece prompted several Western countries to begin to question their willingness to take in refugees.



Honduras arrests five US-bound Syrians with stolen passports

Police in Honduras have arrested five Syrians who were travelling on stolen Greek passports and intended to enter the United States by land.
The five men were detained on Tuesday night after arriving on a flight from neighbouring El Salvador, police said. A spokesman for the Honduras's special police force, Anibal Baca, said they had been tipped off by Greece about the men's imminent arrival. Greek diplomats in Honduras say none of the five speaks a word of Greek. They were held at the international airport in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. According to Honduran police, they were planning to travel to the northern city of San Pedro Sula. From there, they intended to cross into Guatemala and then Mexico before reaching the US border, some 2,000km (1,2000 miles) away.

Unknown identities
"The passports were stolen in Athens," said Mr Baca, from the Police Investigations Division (DPI). "Those are not their real names. We are still trying to establish their identities," he told La Prensa newspaper. The names on the passports are: Charalampos Kyrimopoulos, Alexandros Tzempelikos, Vasileios Bouzas, Konstantinos Marinakis and Anastasios Bellios. Interpol will assist Honduran police with the investigation. American politicians have expressed concern over the arrival of Middle Eastern refugees following Friday's attacks in Paris. Republicans in the House of Representatives said they were drafting legislation to introduce tougher controls on Syrian and Iraqi refugees.


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