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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Nine Syrians froze to death crossing into Lebanon when an icy storm hit a smuggling route in the mountains near a border post with Syria, the Lebanese Army said on Friday.

The army rescued six others from near the Masnaa border crossing, one of whom later died in hospital, an army statement said.

The army arrested two Syrians on smuggling charges and is still searching for others lost in the snow, it added.

Syrians wishing to enter Lebanon must prove to Lebanese authorities they have reason to be in Lebanon, such as property ownership, an embassy appointment, or a residency permit.

For many Syrians fleeing war in their country, securing residency or work permits is impossible. Many are in Lebanon illegally and face arrest if discovered.

Lebanon took in around 1.5 million Syrian refugees at the height of Syria's conflict, now in its seventh year.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Reuters