Turkey rescued about 80 asylum seekers, including a group pushed by the Greek Coast Guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, a security source said on Monday, reports the Anadolu Agency.
Nineteen asylum seekers were stranded in a boat due to an engine failure and were rescued off the coast of Marmaris district in the southwestern Turkish province of Mugla, said the source, who asked not to be named because of restrictions on speaking to the media.
Another group of 34 asylum seekers was rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard, which was conducting a routine patrol off the coast of the Bodrum district in Mugla province.
Furthermore, another team from the Turkish Coast Guard was dispatched to the coast of Ayvacik, in the northwestern Canakkale province, to rescue 26 asylum seekers.
Asylum seekers were trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos (Midilli) in an inflatable boat and a lifeboat.
Security sources said the asylum seekers were pushed into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek Coast Guard.
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After routine checks, all asylum seekers were taken to the provincial migration authority.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross into Europe to start a new life, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Earlier this year the country opened its doors to irregular migrants trying to reach Europe, accusing the EU of failing to deliver on its promises under a migration agreement for 2016.
Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.