Over 3,000 irregular migrants held across Turkey

Turkey has been main route for refugees trying to cross to Europe, especially since beginning of civil war in Syria

y Salih Baran, Hakan Mehmet Sahin   | 07.04.2019
Over 3,000 irregular migrants held across Turkey Greek police intervene migrants as migrants wanted to move to the Macedonian border, outside a refugee camp in Diavata, a west suburb of Thessaloniki, Greece on April 06, 2019. Hundreds of migrants and refugees gathered following anonymous social media calls to walk until the Northern borders of Greece to pass to Europe. ( Ayhan Mehmet - Anadolu Agency )

EDIRNE, Turkey

Security forces held 3,099 irregular migrants across Turkey, sources said Sunday.

Some 979 migrants made a beeline to southeastern Edirne province as of Thursday night after they were told on social media that Turkey would allow them to cross the border, said the sources who asked not to be named, due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Upon a tip-off, police and gendarmerie forces increased security measures near the border to prevent the influx of migrants.

Iranian migrant Ali Huseyni said: “Thousands of people organized to cross the border after they were told on social media that Turkey’s border gate would be open for crossings.”

“People on social media groups wrote to us: ‘You go to Edirne and then we will cross to Greece from there',” Huseyni said. 

He urged other migrants not to come to Edirne, saying: “Borders are not open.”

In separate operations in the Aegean province of Izmir and Aydin, security forces held 174 irregular migrants for entering Turkey illegally.

Separately, in eastern Van province, gendarmerie forces held 67 migrants during regular patrols.

Turkish police also held some 1,879 irregular migrants in two separate operations in capital Ankara, according to security sources.

All migrants were referred to the provincial migration offices, the sources added.

Thousands of irregular migrants had flocked to Edirne in 2015 as well after hearing claims that Germany would accept migrants and border crossings would be open.

Turkey has been the main route for irregular migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.

* Writing by Nilay Kar Onum, Erdogan Cagatay Zontur and Can Erozden

* Halil Sahin from Izmir, Muhammed Boztepe from Ankara and Seracettin Seckin from Van contributed to this story.

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