BRUSSELS - The number of Syrians trying to enter the European Union illegally increased five-fold last year, an EU agency said on Thursday, as refugees fled their war-ravaged country.
Almost 8,000 Syrians without papers, and some with false passports, attempted to cross the Greek and Bulgarian borders to reach wealthy nations such as Germany and Sweden, said the EU's Frontex agency, which oversees the bloc's border controls.
That compared to 1,600 people in 2011, Frontex said.
A two-year old uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has forced 1.3 million people to seek refuge abroad. The violence has destroyed homes and shattered historic cities, as well as killing more than 80,000 people.