ISTANBUL (AP) — Security forces in eastern Turkey have conducted a major operation against people traffickers bringing migrants across the Iranian border, the provincial governor’s office said Monday.
More than 1,450 migrants were found in abandoned buildings around Mount Erek, which towers over the city of Van, since July 10, Van governor’s office said.
Eleven “organizers” were detained, six of whom have been held in prison by a court order. The statement added that 11 “barrack-style” buildings for holding migrants had been demolished.
The operation comes amid concerns over a possible spike in migrants from Afghanistan before the U.S. pullout and intense fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces.
Describing earlier operations by police and border agents, backed by aerial drones, the governor’s office said 27,230 migrants had been caught crossing the Iranian border so far this year.
Turkey’s border with Iran has long been a popular smuggling route for people, mainly Afghans, Iranians and Pakistanis, seeking to enter Turkey before heading west to cities such as Istanbul and Ankara.
The migrants typically hope to raise money in Turkey by working in the black market before heading on to Europe.
Turkey, which hosts around 4 million refugees, is currently building new security measures on its eastern border. Afghans are believed to be the second-largest refugee community after Syrians.
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