BALIKESIR / IZMIR, Turkey 

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 84 asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea, security sources said Friday. 

Sixty-five asylum seekers were trying to reach Greece’s Lesbos Island by motorboat but had to request help from Turkish authorities when the boat’s engine stopped, according to sources.

A Turkish Coast Guard boat responded to the distress call and conducted a rescue operation off the coast of Ayvacik in Turkey’s western Balikesir province, the sources added.

Separately, 19 asylum seekers, whose rubber boat was pushed by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, were rescued by a coast guard team off the Dikili coast in the western Izmir province.

After routine checks, the asylum seekers were sent 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.

*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk and Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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