At least 16 irregular migrants were held in northwestern Turkey, local sources said on Thursday.

In a statement, police said 12 Pakistanis and four Afghans were held as part of an operation against human smuggling in Kocaeli province. Three suspected migrant smugglers were remanded in custody, the statement added.

Turkey has been a main route for irregular migrants trying to cross to Europe, especially since 2011, the start of the Syrian civil war.

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