ISTANBUL, May 25 (Xinhua) -- The Turkish coast guard has captured 273 illegal immigrants in the last 24 hours along Turkey's Aegean shore, as they were attempting to sneak into Greek islands, the force said on Friday.
A total of 153 Syrian refugees, including 53 children, were seized near the districts of Cesme and Dikili in the western province of Izmir in the sea and on land, the coast guard said in a statement posted on its website.
The force also captured 55 Syrians and an Ethiopian on two small boats near Balikesir Province. During the operations, a human trafficker was detained as well.
In another incident, 64 illegal immigrants, including 14 children, were rescued from an inflatable boat near Dikili district after the coast guard received a call for help. The migrants are mostly Syrian nationals.
A deal was signed between Turkey and the European Union in March 2016 to curb the flow of illegal immigration through the Aegean Sea, a favored route for migrants trying to reach Europe.
A total of 10,623 migrants have attempted to reach Greek islands via Turkey this year, up from 5,282 over the same period in 2017, according to figures released by the Turkish coast guard.