By Ali Murat Alhas
ANKARA (AA) – More than 600 irregular migrants were held across Turkey, multiple sources said Wednesday.
A total of 337 irregular migrants were caught in an operation by gendarmerie forces in Edirne province, which borders Greece and Bulgaria.
They were of various nationalities, including Pakistanis, Moroccans, Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Egyptians and Bangladeshis.
In a separate operation, security forces in Hatay province caught 75 irregular migrants from Syria.
In the coastal provinces of Aydin, Izmir and Mula, coastguard and gendarmerie forces held a total of 188 irregular migrants attempting to cross into Europe through Greece.
In addition, nine irregular migrants were held in Nigde province after security forces caught them illegally entering the country.
All of the migrants were taken to hospitals to receive medical care and then transferred to provincial migration offices.
Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry.
Due to its location, Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Turkey ranks first among refugee-hosting countries with 3.7 million refugees, the majority of whom are Syrians who fled the brutal civil war in their country.