MUGLA/AYDIN/CANAKKALE/IZMIR, Turkey

Turkey rescued at least 102 asylum seekers stranded in Turkish territorial waters, the Turkish Coast Guard Command said on Monday.

Acting on a tip-off, a coast guard team was dispatched off the coast of Marmaris in southwestern Mugla province after learning that 11 asylum seekers pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard were stranded on a lifeboat.

The asylum seekers were taken to the shore and later referred to the provincial migration office.

Separately, 22 asylum seekers stranded off the coast of Didim district in western Aydin province were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard. They were referred to the provincial migration office.

Also, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued 20 asylum seekers stranded off the Ayvacik district in northwestern Canakkale province.

The asylum seekers, who wanted to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos, were pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by Greek authorities.

Meanwhile, another 49 asylum seekers stranded on two boats were rescued by Turkish teams off the Dikili and Karaburun coasts of Izmır province. They were later transferred to the provincial migration office. 

Two people who allegedly organized the illegal crossing were also arrested.

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.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

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