IZMIR, Turkey

Turkey on Wednesday rescued 40 asylum seekers, including women and children, who were pushed back by Greek forces into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean, according to security sources. 

In a rescue operation, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued the asylum seekers off the coast of Dikili in the Izmir province.

They were on board rubber boats that were pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by the Greek Coast Guard, who stole the asylum seekers’ fuel cans, 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 into 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.

Greece has been accused of mistreating and pushing back asylum seekers from its borders, in violation of international law.

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

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

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