IZMIR, Turkey

The Turkish Coast Guard on Thursday rescued 44 asylum seekers who were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish waters off the Aegean coast, according to security sources.

The coast guard off the town of Karaburun in the western Izmir province were dispatched to the area after receiving information that the asylum seekers had been stranded on a dinghy.

At least 44 people were brought to the Turkish shore on a coast guard vessel before being transferred to the provincial migration office.

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.

The country opened its gates earlier this year to irregular migrants seeking 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 Havva Kara Aydin

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