By Suat Salgin
BALIKESIR, Turkey (AA) – At least 136 irregular migrants were held across Turkey on Friday, according to security sources.
In northwestern Balikesir province, gendarmerie forces held 17 migrants, said a source, on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Also, 43 irregular migrants aboard rubber boats were held by the Turkish Coast Guard off the Aegean coast of Aydin province.
In two separate operations, 76 irregular migrants were held aboard rubber boats in the Aegean province of Izmir.
Three human smugglers were also arrested in central Kiriklareli province, security sources said.
All of the migrants were later referred to provincial migration directorates.
Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross to Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.
Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry. The migrants were mostly Afghan, Pakistani, Syrian and Iraqi nationals.
*Ozgun Tiran from Kirklareli and Ferdi Uzun from Aydin contributed to this story.
*Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur