IZMIR, Turkey

At least 71 asylum seekers who were pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea were rescued, a security source said early Tuesday.

The Turkish Coast Guard dispatched teams to rescue 28 asylum seekers stranded off Cesme district in Turkey’s Izmir province, said the sources on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Another group of asylum seekers comprising 24 people was rescued off Dikili district in Izmir after the engine of their rubber boat was dismantled by Greek Coast Guard teams, the source added.

Later, 19 others were also brought to the shore in Dikili after they were pushed back by the Greek teams.

The asylum seekers, including women and children, were referred to the provincial migration office.

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 Sena Guler

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