Aleppo, Syria, in February. More than 2,500 Syrian refugees applied for asylum in early 2013. File photo: Abdullah al-Yassin/AP/TT

Syrian refugees flee to Sweden via the U.S.

Syrian refugees are choosing a new route to Sweden - by plane from the United States, newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports. The National Police Board's border control unit and officers from the Swedish Migration Board said they have seen an increasing number of Syrian refugees arriving at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport on direct flights from New York and Chicago.

"It is a new way which has opened up in the past six months," Peter Mattsson, head of Arlanda's border control unit told Dagens Nyheter. The Migration Board also reported an increase of Syrian asylum seekers coming to Sweden with U.S. visas in their passports.

Sophia Öhvall Lindberg, press officer at the Migration Board, said: "We see that a number of Syrians have crossed into Sweden this way. Right now we have about 70 cases in which asylum seekers from Syria have a U.S. visa. Either they have stayed in Sweden on their way to the U.S., or they come here from the U.S."

At present, it is impossible for refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to enter Europe legally to exercise their right to asylum. Instead, many have to resort to getting help from smugglers. Taking a detour via the United States can be a way to get to Sweden without traveling illegally. Dagens Nyheter found that refugees taking this path received visas from the American embassy in Beirut.

In Europe, Sweden and Germany have received the most asylum seekers from Syria.

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