By Ali Balli and Ali Riza Akkir
MUGLA, Turkey (AA) – At least 247 irregular migrants were held across Turkey, security sources said Tuesday.
In the Aegean province of Mugla, 174 migrants were held while attempting to cross into Europe aboard a small boat, said a source, who requested not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
According to the Mugla Cost Guard Units, the U.S.-flagged gulet was carrying the migrants in the Gulf of Izmir.
Ten more migrants, including two children and women, were rescued by a tourist boat as their dinghy sank in the Aegean sea.
Most of the migrants were Iraqi nationals.
In the northwestern province of Edirne, the provincial gendarmerie command units rounded up 31 Syrians who were attempting to cross the border illegaly.
In northwestern Kirklareli province, 10 Afghan and Pakistani nationals were held by Turkish security forces.
Another 22 undocumented migrants, mostly Syrians, were also captured by Turkish forces in the southern province of Hatay.
Turkey has been a main route for irregular migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.
Of the migrants held in Turkey last year, 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.
*Ozgun Tiran from Kirklareli , Hakan Mehmet Sahin from Edirne and Mehmet Toktas from Hatay provinces contributed to the story.