CANAKKALE, Turkey 

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued at least 23 asylum seekers on a rubber boat with a broken engine, security sources said Thursday.

The boat went adrift off the coast of Ayvacik in the northwestern Canakkale province, said the source asking not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Acting on a tip-off, a coast guard team rushed to the area and rescued the asylum seekers who wanted to reach Europe via Greece.

They were transferred to the provincial migration office, the source added.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants wanting to reach Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

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

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

*Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara

Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.