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Turkish gendarmes find 116 migrants en route to Greece

Six Turkish nationals in Izmir province detained for allegedly organizing illegal migration

Turkish gendarmes find 116 migrants en route to Greece

By Safak Yel

IZMIR, Turkey

Turkish gendarmes apprehended 116 foreigners suspected of getting ready to illegally migrate from Izmir, Turkey’s western coastal province, a security source said Tuesday.

Teams from Izmir Gendarmerie Department’s anti-smuggling unit raided several locations in Izmir’s Bornova, Dikili and Urla districts, as part of an investigation into illegal migration.

Six Turkish nationals allegedly organizing illegal journeys to Greek islands were also detained in the operation, the gendarmerie source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Turkish forces apprehended two alleged organizers and 36 foreign nationals in Bornova, four suspected smugglers and 76 foreign nationals in Urla plus four more foreign nationals in Dikili.

The would-be migrants -- 89 Syrians, 25 Afghans and two Somali nationals -- were transferred to the Izmir migration authority. The six Turkish nationals were remanded in custody.

More than a million refugees and migrants traveled from Turkey to Greece last year before an EU-Turkey deal stemmed the flow in March.

The EU-Turkey agreement reached on March 20 allows for the return of “irregular migrants” to Turkey from Greece in exchange for Syrian refugees to be relocated within the EU.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 154,000 people have crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece so far this year and at least 376 have died during the journey.

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