IZMIR, Turkey

A total of 187 asylum seekers were held off the coast of Cesme district of Izmir, Turkey’s Aegean province, on Wednesday, sources said.

Teams of Turkish Coast Guard Command caught a boat carrying the migrants planning to go to Italy, the insiders said, adding that two foreign nationals suspected of organizing the illegal crossing were also detained.

The asylum seekers were then brought to Cesme pier, and will be handed over to the provincial migration administration.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

It hosts nearly 4 million refugees, including over 3.6 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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