Turkey on Monday rescued 36 asylum seekers, including women and children, who were pushed back by Greek forces into Turkish territorial waters, according to security sources.

The asylum seekers of different nationalities initially set off for the Greek island of Lesbos from Ayvacik in Canakkale, northwestern Turkey. 

They were onboard rubber boats that were pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by the Greek Coast Guard, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

As part of the rescue operation, the Turkish Coast Guard detected the asylum seekers’ location via drones and then brought them to the shore.

Upon reaching Turkey, they were provided with food and clothing by Turkish officials.

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.

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

Turkey currently hosts over 3.7 million Syrians, making it the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

* Writing by Merve Aydogan

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