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Honduras nabs Syrians bound for US with doctored Greek passports

Honduran authorities said on Wednesday they had intercepted six Syrian nationals traveling on doctored Greek passports in the past week, including five who had been trying to reach the United States.

Five of the men were detained 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.

Anibal Baca, a spokesman for Honduras' police, said the five were trying to get to the United States.

A sixth man was turned away on Friday on arrival by plane from El Salvador, and was sent back there by air.

Police said there were no signs of any links to last week's deadly attacks in Paris that killed 129 people. Islamic State claimed credit for the shooting and suicide bombing assault.

Reports that at least one of the Paris attackers may have slipped into Europe among migrants registered in Greece prompted several Western countries to begin to question their willingness to take in refugees from war-torn Syria.

In the United States, Republicans are resisting President Barack Obama's plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year.

"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," Baca said.

"They are normal Syrians," the police spokesman added, saying there was nothing to indicate they were tied to the Paris attacks.

Television footage showed the men dressed in casual clothing and grinning as police officers escorted them at the airport.

Honduran newspaper La Prensa said the five men detained on Tuesday were aged 23 to 33.

"Greek diplomats arrived in the terminal area and confirmed the men didn't speak a word of Greek," the paper said.

The Honduran government said it had involved Interpol in the investigation. Use of false passports is increasingly commonplace among Syrian refugees who often find themselves in other countries having left their own documents behind in their rush to flee.