The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 74 asylum seekers Wednesday who were pushed into Turkish territorial waters off the Aegean coast by Greek coastal authorities, according to a security source.

Authorities were dispatched to the area after 18 asylum seekers called for help off the coast of the Marmaris district in the southwestern province of Mugla, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking the media. 

They were trying to make their way in two rafts but were turned back by the Greek Coast Guard off Cape Kadirga.

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

The coast guard rescued 43 additional asylum seekers, who sought help off Cape Degirmen in Mugla.

Separately, the coast guard also rescued 13 asylum seekers who set off in a rubber boat from the coast of Ayvacik in Canakkale, northwestern Turkey, in a bid to reach Greece.

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.

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.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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