The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 35 asylum seekers as a boat carrying them sank in the Aegean Sea, according to security sources on Monday.

They were directed to Turkish territorial waters by the Greek Coast Guard.

According to the rescued migrants, the boat was damaged by the Greek forces before being pushed back that led to its sinking off the Ayvalik district of the Balikesir province.

The search for four missing passengers is ongoing said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

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

Turkey earlier this year opened its gates for irregular migrants wanting to cross to Europe, accusing the EU of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.

Turkey currently hosts over 3.7 million Syrians, making it the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.