Turkey Detains Nearly 1,500 Migrants near Iranian Border – Officials

ISTANBUL, July 19 (Reuters) – Turkish security forces have detained nearly 1,500 irregular migrants in the last week, most of them Afghans, near the southeastern border with Iran, officials said, amid rising violence in Afghanistan.

The officials from a local governorate and the Interior Ministry said 1,456 migrants had been detained since July 10 near Mount Erek in eastern Van province, as well as 11 human traffickers who brought them into Turkey.

Concerns over a potential new influx of migrants into Turkey from Afghanistan, via Iran, have grown in recent weeks as violence between the Afghan government and the Taliban has surged as U.S. and NATO forces withdraw.

Video footage has shown large groups of migrants in the border area, although the Turkish government says there has been no surge yet in numbers.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates 270,000 Afghans have been displaced inside the country since January, bringing the number of people forced from their homes to more than 3.5 million.

Foreign ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran discussed cooperation on security, energy, and migration last month but Turkish diplomatic sources say there is no specific mechanism between Ankara and Tehran to address migration from Afghanistan.

Turkey hosts more than 4 million refugees, the vast majority from Syria, and is the world’s leading refugee host.

(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Editing by Dominic Evans)