Over 260 irregular migrants held across Turkey

By Mehmet Toktas

HATAY, Turkey (AA) – At least 267 irregular migrants were held across Turkey, security sources said on Wednesday.

In southern province of Hatay, 97 migrants — all Syrian nationals — were rounded up while attempting to enter Turkey, the gendarmerie sources said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Moreover, 64 migrants, including women and children, were rounded up off Ayvacik district in the northwestern Canakkale province.

The migrants — all Afghan nationals — were illegally attempting to cross to Greece’s Lesbos island, the sources added.

Separately, 61 migrants were rounded up in the northwestern Edirne province's Meric district. The migrants from Pakistan, Syria and Iraq were held during regular patrols by gendarmerie units.

In addition, the coast guard stopped two inflatable boats carrying 45 irregular migrants off western Izmir’s Alacati district as they called for help from the guards.

All the migrants were later referred to provincial migration authorities.

Turkey has been a main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011, the beginning of Syria's civil war.

Among 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.