CANAKKALE, Turkey

The Turkish Coast Guard Command rescued 18 irregular migrants whose boats were pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard into Turkish waters in the Aegean Sea, security sources said Monday.

A Turkish team was dispatched off Canakkale after learning of a number of irregular migrants stranded on a lifeboat, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The teams took 18 people from their lifeboat to the coast guard boat and brought them ashore.

After routine checks, the irregular migrants were taken to the provincial migration authority.

Recent months have seen multiple reports of Greek forces illegally pushing back boats of asylum seekers, endangering the passengers in the process.

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 hosts nearly 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world.

*Writing by Merve Berker

Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.