IZMIR, Turkey 

Turkey has rescued 36 asylum seekers who were pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean, according to security sources on Wednesday.

After getting intelligence that there were scores of asylum seekers in a dinghy off the coast of Dikili in the Izmir province, the Turkish Coast Guard launched a search operation and rescued the asylum seekers.

After routine checks, the asylum seekers were referred to the provincial migration authority.

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.

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

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

*Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

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