Turkey rescues 57 asylum seekers in Aegean

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

By Mirac Kaya

BALIKESIR, Turkey (AA) – Turkey on Thursday rescued 57 asylum seekers, including women and children, who were pushed back by Greek forces into Turkish territorial waters, according to security sources.

In a rescue operation, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued the asylum seekers, who set off for the Greek island of Lesbos, in the Aegean off the coast of Ayvalik in the Balikesir province.

They were on board rubber boats that were pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by the Greek Coast Guard, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

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.

Turkey earlier this year opened its gates for irregular migrants wanting to cross to Europe, accusing the EU of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.

Greece has been accused of mistreating and pushing back asylum seekers from its borders, in violation of international law.

Turkey currently hosts over 3.7 million Syrians, making it the world's top refugee-hosting country.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar