IZMIR, Turkey 

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 41 asylum seekers who were pushed back by Greek coastal officers into Turkish waters in the Aegean Sea, security sources said Friday.

Coast guard teams were dispatched to the area off the coast of Karaburun district in the Aegean province of Izmir after learning that a group of asylum seekers was stranded on two dinghies, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

They were brought ashore by the teams before being transferred to the provincial migration office.

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.

The country opened its gates earlier this year to asylum seekers seeking to cross to Europe, accusing the European Union 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 Sena Guler

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