Turkish Coast Guard units in the Aegean Izmir province on Friday rescued 26 asylum seekers illegally pushed back to Turkey’s territorial waters by Greek forces, said an official statement.

Acting on tip that a group of asylum seekers was struggling in boats off the coast of Cesme, Izmir, the Coast Guard Command quickly dispatched a boat to the area and rescued all those onboard, said a coast guard statement.

They were later taken to the provincial migration office.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Turkey and human rights groups have 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.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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