By Hanife Erdinc, Suat Salgin, Mustafa Yildirim, Necat Hazar and Serhat Zafer
CANAKKALE/BALIKESIR/IZMIR/VAN/SIVAS, Turkey (AA) – Turkish security forces held 293 irregular migrants during nationwide operations, security sources said on Tuesday.
Coast guard units held 116 irregular migrants in Ayvacik district of the northwestern province of Canakkale, the sources said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The migrants, including women and children, were from Afghanistan, the sources added.
Turkish gendarmes held 28 irregular migrants in Ayvalik district of northwestern Balikesir province. They were Afghan and Iranian nationals.
In a separate operation, 52 irregular migrants were held in Dikili district of western Izmir province. The security forces held the migrants including women and children, who were planning to cross to Greece.
A total of 50 migrants — Afghan and Pakistani nationals — were held in the Ipekyolu district of eastern Van province.
Separately in central Sivas province, security forces held 47 irregular migrants — Afghan and Pakistani nationals — who were trying to get out of the country using illegal routes.
All the migrants were sent to immigration authorities.
Turkey has been a main route for refugees trying to cross to Europe, especially since 2011, the beginning of Syria's civil war.