By Safak Yel
No lesser than 709 irregular migrants were held across Turkey, security sources said on Tuesday.
The Turkish Coast Guard nabbed 38 irregular migrants -- all Afghan nationals -- from a rubber boat off the coast of Madra Cayi in the Aegean Izmir province.
Separately, 45 others -- Palestinian, Iraqi, Moroccan, and Lebanese nationals -- held from a fishing boat off the coast of Didim in the Aegean Aydin province, said a security source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Three people were arrested for alleged human smuggling.
In northwestern Balikesir province, gendarmerie forces rounded up 38 irregular migrants during regular patrols.
Migrants reportedly were planning to reach Greece through the Aegean sea from Balıkesir’s Edremit district.
In a separate operation in the same province, 24 irregular migrants -- all Afghan nationals -- caught by gendarmerie forces while preparing to depart Turkey off the Aegean coast of Sarimsakli.
Seven human smugglers were arrested after the operation.
Some 512 irregular migrants were rounded up by gendarmerie forces in the northwestern province of Edirne, bordering Bulgaria and Greece.
Security forces arrested two human smugglers.
In a separate operation in the same province, the Turkish Coast Guard rounded up 30 irregular migrants from a rubber boat off the coast of Enez while trying to reach Greece by sea.
In the southern Hatay province -- bordering Syria -- 22 migrants, who illegally entered Turkey, held by security forces at the border.
All the migrants were referred to provincial migration directorates.
Turkey has been a main route for irregular migrants trying to cross to Europe, especially since 2011, the start of the Syrian civil war.
Over 265,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry.