Police and security forces arrested two men on Monday who claimed they had assisted two relatives, one of whom is an escaped convict, in fleeing the country to Syria.

The men, aged 19 and 21, from the Arab towns of Tamra and Jaljulya, were arrested near the Israeli-Syrian border, close to Kibbutz Elrom, on suspicion that they were smuggling drugs — which was later discredited by authorities after questioning the suspects.

In their interrogation, they told the police that they were there to help their relatives cross over the border. They named one of their relatives as 23-year-old Mohammed Yassin and said he decided to flee the country during a furlough from prison, where he has been serving a 20-year sentence for murdering Orsan Zoabi, a 23-year-old resident of Tamra, since 2006.

The Prison Authority confirmed that Yassin escaped from the parking lot of the Hermon Prison in the Golan Heights upon his return from a 12-hour leave.

Yassin, who was a minor at the time of the murder, is the brother of one of the suspects. The identity of the second man who fled to Syria remains unknown.

Michal Shmulovich contributed to this report.