ADDS NEW RESCUE OPERATION
By Suat Salgin and Mustafa Gungor
BALIKESIR/ IZMIR, Turkey (AA) – Turkey rescued 202 asylum seekers Wednesday after their boats were pushed back by Greek Coast Guard personnel into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, according to security sources.
In two rescue operations, the Turkish Coast Guard separately rescued 74 and 46 asylum seekers who set off for the Greek island of Lesbos off the coast of Ayvalik district in the northwestern Turkish province of Balikesir.
In two more rescue operations, 42 and 40 asylum seekers were separately rescued off the coast of Dikili and Karaburun district in Turkey’s western Izmir province.
They were aboard 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.
The asylum seekers, including women and children, were taken to the Turkish shore and given food, drinks and medical aid.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Earlier this year, Turkey opened its gates for asylum seekers wanting to cross to Europe, accusing the European Union of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.
Turkey has decried Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying that in addition to breaking the law, it endangers their lives.