ANKARA

Turkish security forces rescued at least 272 irregular migrants and held a migrant smuggler in the past week, authorities said on Saturday.

The coast guard teams rescued 272 irregular migrants in five different operations as part of the fight against irregular migration, the Turkish Coast Guard said on Twitter.

The operations took place between Dec. 11-17 across the country’s coasts.

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

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

Turkey has decried Greece’s recent illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying that in addition to breaking the law, it endangers the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

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