Authorities on Thursday arrested 143 illegal migrants from Afghanistan after stopping a truck on the Athens- Corinth national highway, following a tip-off and surveillance of the vehicle.

The driver of the refrigerator truck, a local man, along with five Syrian nationals in a car travelling ahead of the truck as a "look-out", were also arrested in what police charge is an organised crime ring ferrying illegal migrants into western Europe from Turkey via Greece.

The truck was headed for the western port city of Patras, Greece's hub for ferryboat routes to Italy.

The car carrying the Syrians at first failed to stop to police commands, fleeing down the highway before being stopped outside the town of Xylokastro.