By Ali Riza Akkir and Ali Balli

MUGLA, Turkey

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 14 asylum seekers Tuesday who were pushed back by Greek authorities, according to a Turkish security source.

After learning that a boat carrying a group of asylum seekers was sailing off the coast of Marmaris district in Turkey’s Mugla province, the regional coast guard command deployed teams to the location, added the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Arriving at the location, the coast guard teams rescued the asylum seekers, the source said.

Meanwhile, three irregular migrants were caught trying to cross abroad off the coast of Bodrum district in Mugla.

Local coast guard command teams took action on a tip-off and after reaching the area caught the migrants.

Separately, as many as 56 irregular migrants were caught trying to cross borders illegally in Ortaca district of Mugla.

Coast guard teams were dispatched after reports that a group of irregular migrants had been found in the area of Cape Disibilmez.

The teams caught all 56 irregular migrants, who were preparing to go abroad.

All of the irregular migrants were taken to the provincial migration center.

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.

It hosts nearly 4 million refugees, including over 3.6 million Syrians — more than any other country in the world.

Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, which is also condemned by international human rights groups, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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