Balikesir, Turkey 

Turkey rescued 42 asylum seekers who were pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean, a security source said on Tuesday.

The asylum seekers were rescued from a dinghy off the coast of Ayvalik district of Turkey’s western Balikesir province, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The group, which comprised of 38 Somalians, two Kenyans, and two Syrians, was trying to reach Greece’s Lesbos island, the source added.

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

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.

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

Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying that it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

* Writing by Fahri Aksut

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