The Syrian authorities found the bodies of 15 migrants in waters off the port city of Tartus Thursday, the government said, adding that at least eight others had been rescued.
“Fifteen people were found dead, (and) eight survivors were taken to Al-Basel hospital in Tartus,” the head of Syrian ports Samer Kbrasli said in a statement released by the ministry of transport.
“According to survivors, their boat left Lebanon days ago,” Kbrasli said, adding that the migrants were from various nations.
Rescue teams were at work in several areas off Tartus, including around the island of Arwad, he added.
Efforts, supported by local fishermen, were ongoing to retrieve the boat, he said, but did not provide further details on what caused the incident.
Tartus is the southernmost of Syria’s main ports and lies little more than 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.
The statement published by the Syrian transport ministry said information gathered from survivors suggested the boat set off from Miniyeh, a town just north of Tripoli.
Lebanon last year saw a spike in the number of would-be migrants using its shores to attempt the perilous crossing in overcrowded boats to reach Europe.
Most of the boats head for European Union member Cyprus, an island 175 kilometres (110 miles) away.
Many of those departing from Lebanon are Syrians, but an ever-worsening economic crisis has pushed growing numbers of Lebanese to also attempt the crossing.