By Mehmet Yavas and Sener Toktas
CANAKKALE / BITLIS, Turkey (AA) - The Turkish security teams held 212 irregular migrants in eastern Bitlis, northwestern Canakkale provinces and the Aegean Sea, local authorities said Thursday.
Twenty irregular migrants were held in a fishing boat off Besik Burnu in Ezine district, the Coast Guard Command said in a statement.
As a result of joint efforts with local Gendarmerie Station Command, another 184 migrants, having links to those on the boat, were caught in the district.
After routine checks, the migrants were taken to the Ayvacik migration authority.
Separately, the governor's office in Bitlis said eight irregular migrants were held by security teams in Tatvan district.
Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Earlier in 2020, the country opened its gates to irregular migrants seeking to reach Europe and accused the EU of failing to keep promises under a 2016 migrant deal.
Turkey hosts nearly 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara