A total of 51 irregular migrants were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard in the Aegean Sea, according to the country’s National Defense Ministry on Thursday.

“Our TCG Tuzla patrol vessel, conducting planned surveillance and reconnaissance activities, detected a boat carrying irregular migrants, and through the Coast Guard Command helped rescue 51 irregular migrants off [northwestern] Edremit coast,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Read more: Turkish coastguard rescues 51 irregular migrants