321 refugees were captured in Turkey while trying to travel to European countries
Turkish Coast Guard and gendarmarie sources said 321 refugees were captured as they were trying to illegally travel to European countries on Tuesday.
Sixty-two refugees including Iran, Yemen and Syria nationals were captured on a yacht off Mugla's Fethiye district in southwest Turkey, according to a local Coast Guard source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The refugees, including 25 women and 12 children, were trying to reach the Greek island of Rhodes, the source said.
Separately, 119 Syrian refugees were captured on two inflatable boats off Balikesir's Ayvalik district in western Turkey as they were trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos, another Coast Guard source said.
Another 57 Syrians were also captured in Izmir's Foca district while also headed to Lesbos.
In another operation in northwest Turkey, 36 refugees including women and children from Syria and Congo were captured by local Coast Guard squads as they were trying to travel from Canakkale province's Ayvacik district to Lesbos.
Gendarmerie officers in the northwestern province of Kirklareli bordering Bulgaria captured 47 Pakistani, Afghan and Syrian refugees preparing to flee the country illegally, a security source said.
The refugees were captured in Babaeski, Kofcaz and Demirkoy districts.
All 321 refugees were referred to the local migration management authorities after questioning.
Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March 2016, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Since then, the number of refugees caught crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece has fallen by 85 percent, according to the Turkish Coast Guard.