IZMIR, Turkey

Between July 17 and July 22, Turkish Coast Guard units in the Aegean Izmir province rescued 388 asylum seekers illegally pushed back to Turkey’s territorial waters by Greek forces, authorities said on Tuesday.

A total of 217 asylum seekers were rescued off the Seferihisar coast and two suspected traffickers arrested between July 18 and July 21, while 78 asylum seekers were found off the coast of Dikili between July 17 and July 20.

On July 22, 26 asylum seekers were saved off the coast of Izmir’s Foca district and another 67 foreign nationals stranded in a sailing boat off the Cesme district were also rescued.

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.

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