AYDIN, Turkey 

At least 39 asylum seekers were held in southwestern Turkey after attempting to reach Europe illegally, a security source said late Thursday. 

Provincial security teams in Germencik district in Aydin province detained the asylum seekers, who were attempting to set out for Greece from Istanbul and were brought to Germencik by migrant smugglers

The asylum seekers included 37 Afghan and two Nigerian nationals, said a source on condition of anonymity.

After health checks at Germencik Devlet Hospital, they were transferred to the provincial immigration authority.

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

Turkey earlier this year opened its gates for irregular migrants wanting to cross to Europe, accusing the European Union of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.

Greece has been accused of mistreating and pushing back asylum seekers from its borders in violation of international law.

Turkey currently hosts over 3.7 million Syrians, making it the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

Copyright 2020 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.