Turkish gendarmes apprehended 116 foreigners suspected of getting ready to illegally migrate from İzmir, Turkey's western coastal province, a security source said yesterday.
Teams from İzmir Gendarmerie Department's anti-smuggling unit raided several locations in İzmir's Bornova, Dikili and Urla districts, as part of an investigation into illegal migration.
Six Turkish nationals allegedly organizing illegal journeys to the 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 İzmir 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.
Under the deal with the EU, the favorite destination of migrants from impoverished, war-torn regions in Asia and the Middle East, Turkey agreed to take back "irregular migrants" of several nationalities from Greece in exchange for the relocation of Syrian refugees in Turkey to European Union countries.
Hundreds of migrants were brought to Turkey, though the low number is viewed as a failure of the deal according to the EU. The bloc has also pledged a visa waiver for Turks and an acceleration of Turkey's accession talks as part of the deal.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently warned that the deal may collapse if the union does not hold up its side on visa waivers, while EU officials imply scrapping the deal if Turkey continues its anti-terror crackdown, seen as problematic by the union.