Istanbul: Turkish security forces have detained 435 migrants and Syrian refugees along with three suspected people smugglers, before they embarked on an attempt to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, reports said Saturday.
There has been an upsurge this summer in the numbers of refugees and migrants using shaky vessels to make the crossing, sparking a humanitarian crisis for the European Union.
The latest arrests in the district of Ayvacik on the Aegean in the Canakkale region of western Turkey appear to have been made even before they put to sea to try to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.
Of those detained, 345 are Syrians, 64 from Afghanistan, 19 from Myanmar and 7 from Pakistan, the official Anatolia news agency said, adding that police were acting on a tip-off.
Three suspected people smugglers — all Turkish nationals — were also detained. Two boats, two outboard motors and a large numbers of life jackets that were to have been used in the crossing were also seized.
Turkish officials say the security forces have been detaining thousands of migrants around the Aegean seeking to cross to Europe every week this summer.
Many have been trying to make the short crossing from the Turkish resort of Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos in the southern Aegean.
Far from striking out independently, they rely on the services of people smugglers who coordinate the enterprise, paying around $1,200 a head for the risky crossing.