Turkish security forces captured at least 135 irregular migrants during operations over the weekend across the country.
The Turkish coast guard rescued 55 irregular migrants from a sinking rubber boat in the Aegean Sea off the country's southwestern coast on Saturday.
According to a statement by the Coastal Guard Command, the boat, carrying 52 Syrians, two Palestinians and a Saudi national, suffered engine failure before the rescue team reached them.
The migrants sailed from the Turkish coastal province of Aydin, heading for nearby Greek islands. They were taken to provincial migration management offices for further procedures.
Yesterday, 26 other migrants were caught as they were attempting to cross Turkish border to leave the country en route to Europe through illegal means. The group of irregular migrants was from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Also yesterday, 13 other irregular migrants were captured by police in central Kayseri province in the early hours. Among the captured migrants in Kayseri, 10 were from Pakistan, and three were from Afghanistan. One of the captured migrants, who could speak Turkish, said the irregular migrants were en route to Istanbul. Police handed the migrants over to the provincial immigration directorate. In eastern Erzincan province, 43 irregular migrants, who were left to freeze in cold, snowy weather on the side of a rural road by smugglers, were rescued by the gendarmerie. Security forces said yesterday that among the rescued migrants, 35 were from Afghanistan and eight were from Pakistan. The migrants in Erzincan were also deceived by smugglers for a journey en route to Istanbul. The migrants had walked in the snow for three hours before they were found by the security forces. An investigation was also launched to catch the smugglers.
Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry.