IZMIR / MERSIN, Turkey

The Turkish Coast Guard Command announced on Friday that 72 asylum seekers in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas were nabbed. 

Acting on a tip, the Turkish Coast Guard in coordination with provincial gendarmerie forces and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), rounded up 51 asylum seekers on a yacht off the coast of Cesme district in western Izmir province.

Two Ukrainian human traffickers were detained in the operation.

In a separate operation, and also acting on a tip, a Turkish Coast Guard Command operation nabbed 21 asylum seekers on a boat off the coast of Mersin province in the Mediterranean Sea.

A Coast Guard boat from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) participated in that operation.

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.

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