MUGLA, Turkey

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 18 asylum seekers who were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish waters off the Aegean coast, a security source said Monday.

The coast guard was dispatched to the area and took the migrants to the Turkish shore in the Marmaris district of Mugla via a coast guard boat, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

After reaching the shores, they were transferred to the provincial migration office.

Turkey has decried the Greek pushbacks as illegal and risky for migrants’ lives.

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

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

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

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