MUGLA, Turkey

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued Saturday nine asylum seekers who were pushed back by the Greek side into Turkish waters off the Aegean coast, according to security sources.

The coast guard team was dispatched to the area after asylum seekers asked for help in the Bodrum district of southwestern Mugla province.

Asylum seekers were taken to the Turkish shore on a coast guard boat 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 Fahri Aksut

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