AYDIN/CANAKKALE/BALIKESIR, Turkey (AA) – The Turkish Coast Guard rescued at least 162 asylum seekers who were pushed into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek side, security sources said Thursday.
The Turkish Coast Guard said in a statement that a team was dispatched to an area off Kusadasi in western Aydin province after learning of a group of asylum seekers stranded on six dinghies.
A total of 72 asylum seekers were taken to the shore, according to the statement.
Separately, another Turkish Coast Guard team was dispatched off the coast of Ayvacik in the northwestern Canakkale province to rescue at least 53 asylum seekers.
The asylum seekers were aiming to reach to Greece’s Lesbos Island on a dinghy and life-boat.
Additionally, Turkish Coast Guard personnel in northwestern Balikesir province rescued 37 asylum seekers.
After routine checks, the asylum seekers were taken to the provincial migration authority.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Earlier this year, Turkey opened its gates to irregular migrants, 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.