By Mehmet Calik, Mehmet Toktas, and Cihan Demirci
AYDIN/HATAY/EDIRNE, Turkey (AA) – At least 172 irregular migrants were held across Turkey, security sources said on Saturday.
In the western Aydin province, the Coast Guard found 37 migrants, including 16 children, in a rubber boat off the Kusadasi district.
The migrants were from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.
In the northwestern Edirne province's Meric district, gendarmerie units rounded up 67 migrants.
The driver of the vehicle carrying them was arrested for alleged human smuggling.
A total of 68 migrants — all Syrian nationals — were also rounded up in the Yayladagi district of the southern border province of Hatay.
The migrants were deported following proceedings.
Turkey has been a main route for irregular migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.
Among the migrants held in 2017 in Turkey, the majority came from Pakistan — around 15,000 — followed by Afghans at around 12,000. Syrians totaled about 10,000. There has been a 60 percent increase in migrant flow since 2016. The number was 31,000 in 2016.