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Nato patrols 'will not stop or push back refugee boats'

Nato's mission in the Aegean Sea will not be able "stopping or pushing back refugee boats", Nato's secretary-general has said.

Jens Stoltenberg said ships will contribute "critical information" to help the Turkish and Greek coastguard tackle human trafficking and criminal networks.

He also said Nato would step up surveillance of the Syrian-Turkish border.

The move to deploy ships follows a request from Germany, Turkey and Greece.

Thousands of refugees have already arrived in Greece by sea since the start of the year.

Refugee crisis: Nato could launch patrols in Aegean

Nato could launch patrols in the Aegean Sea to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece, the US secretary of defence said.

Refugees travelling across the Aegean Sea. Credit: Reuters

Ash Carter said Nato allies were considering the move after a request from Germany, Turkey and Greece to help slow the refugee flows.

"There is now a criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people and this is an organised smuggling operation," Carter told a news conference during a meeting of Nato defence ministers in the Belgium capital Brussels.

"Targeting that is the way that the greatest effect can be had in the humanitarian dimension," he said.

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