150 people held off Aegean Sea coast; 37 others held in northwestern Balikesir province
By Tezcan Ekizler and Safak Yel
At least 185 undocumented migrants have been held during anti-human trafficking operations across Turkey, according to coast guard officials on Tuesday.
In the Aegean province of Aydin, coast guard units rounded up 79 Syrians off the coast of Kusadasi resort town after the captain of a cargo ship reported undocumented migrants requesting to come abroad.
In northwestern Balikesir province, coast guards held 37 undocumented migrants including Syrians and an Iraqi in Ayvalik district who were seeking an illegal route to reach Greek Lesbos Island off Maden Island of Ayvalik.
Separately, coast guards held 70 undocumented migrants in Dikili district of Izmir, according to a security official on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The guards stopped a boat after it was detected by a mobile radar and held 70 foreigners, including 39 children and 13 women.
According to the sources, 52 Syrians, 16 Afghans, an Iraqi and an Ivory Coast national were among those held.
The migrants were later referred to the district police.
Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. Among migrants held in 2017 in Turkey, the majority came from Pakistan — around 15,000 — followed by Afghans at around 12,000. Syrians totaled about 10,000.