IZMIR / MUGLA / CANAKKALE, Turkey

The Turkish Coast Guard on Monday rescued 68 asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea illegally pushed back by Greek authorities into Turkish territorial waters.

The coast guard rescued 12 asylum seekers on a boat pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard off Cesme in Izmir province, according to the Coast Guard Command.

The asylum seekers were later transferred to the provincial migration office.

Separately, 15 asylum seekers were rescued in Bozburun in Turkey’s southwestern Mugla province, according to the provincial coast guard. In a separate incident, 13 more asylum seekers were rescued off the coast of Gokceburnu in the province.

The asylum seekers were transferred to the provincial migration office.

Another 28 asylum seekers were rescued off Burunucu in the western Canakkale province, the coast guard said in a statement.

The asylum seekers were transferred to the Ayvacik migration office.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

The illegal pushbacks by the Greek Coast Guard have been condemned by Turkish officials and human rights groups.

Turkey hosts nearly 4 million refugees, including over 3.6 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

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