At least 64 asylum seekers rescued off western Turkey

By Yusuf Soykan Bal

IZMIR, Turkey (AA) – At least 64 asylum seekers were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard off Turkey's Aegean province of Izmir early Thursday.

Acting on a notice that a group of asylum seekers on a rubber boat were offshore of the town of Dikili, the Coast Guard Command guided the boat for rescue.

The asylum seekers reported that they were pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by Greek forces.

They were transferred to the migration office after routine procedures.

Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

Greek security forces are also accused of using disproportionate force against asylum seekers with tear gas, water cannons and live ammunition. Nearly 2,500 asylum seekers have been wounded and several killed by Greek border guards' measures.

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.

*Writing by Dilan Pamuk in Ankara