Turkey rescues 121 asylum seekers off Aegean coast

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Turkish officials rescued on Sunday 121 asylum seekers off the country’s Aegean coast after the Greek Coast Guard forced them to return to the territorial waters of Turkey, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkish Coast Guard teams rescued a group comprised of 47 Afghan and one Syrian national, it said.

In a separate rescue effort, Turkish officials helped 48 Syrian, 24 Congolese and one Angolan national, Anadolu said.

Turkish officials announced last week that they would no longer try to stop asylum seekers from reaching Europe.

But the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered on Saturday his coast guard to prevent migrants and refugees from crossing the Aegean Sea.

Turkey, home to some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world, has said it would be unable to absorb yet another refugee influx as close to one million Syrians from Idlib province have fled to its border amid clashes in the region. 

Greece, in response, closed down the land border and ramped up security around islands in the Aegean Sea close to Turkey.

Turkey has been a preferred transit point for hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants aiming to cross into Europe.

Ahval

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