Albanian navy extends help for EU's maritime border mission

Albania's Defense Ministry has extended for a year its navy's participation in the search-and-rescue operations of European Union border control force Frontex.

Defense Minister Olta Xhacka on Wednesday said the mission, mainly in the Aegean Sea, will continue in 2019. Albania's navy contributes one warship to the operations.

Xhacka said Albanian sailors have "saved thousands of human lives" during the last two years when refugees have tried to cross from Turkey to Greece.

It's the first time Albania, a NATO member since 2009, has taken part in the Western military alliances maritime missions.

Local media reported Wednesday that six Palestinian and three Syrian refugees were detained a day earlier while trying to cross on foot into southeastern Albania, coming from neighboring Greece. They were questioned and sent to a shelter near the capital, Tirana.

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