UPDATE – Around 400 irregular migrants held in Turkey



By Mehmet Yavas and Busra Nur Ozcan

CANAKKALE/VAN, Turkey (AA) – At least 391 irregular migrants were held across Turkey, security sources said on Tuesday.

The sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said 45 migrants, including women and children, were rounded up off Ayvacik by local gendarmerie forces in the northwestern Canakkale province.

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

In a separate operation, the coast guard stopped an inflatable boat carrying some 42 irregular migrants off Ayvacik.

The migrants — all Afghan nationals — were planning to cross to Lesbos, said the sources.

Another 43 irregular migrants — including Afghan and Pakistani nationals — were held in Baskale in the eastern Van province.

Later on Tuesday, 248 migrants were held in the northwestern Edirne province, sources said.

Also, in southwestern Mugla, 13 irregular migrants from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan were held, sources added.

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.

* Osman Uras, Ali Balli from Mugla, Cihan Demirci from Edirne contributed to this story.