Turkish officials on Tuesday rescued 18 asylum-seekers who were forced by the Greek coast guard into Turkish territorial waters off the southeastern coast.
A Turkish coast guard team rescued the asylum-seekers in the Aegean off the Datça district in the province of Muğla, said the Coast Guard Command.
The team rescued 18 asylum-seekers from Palestine, Syria and Iran, including women and children.
After they were given food and blankets, the asylum-seekers were taken to the provincial migration offices.
Earlier in the day, 50 migrants and refugees of various nationalities were held in western Turkey after attempting to cross into Greece by rubber boat, local security authorities said.
The coast guard dispatched a team to the waters off Dikili district, where 26 foreign nationals were detained. The foreigners were from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Gambia, Somalia, Central Africa, Tunisia and Palestine.
In a separate incident, 24 foreigners from Syria, Central African Republic, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon were caught by security authorities in rubber boats off the coast of Çeşme district before entering Greece.
All of the refugees and migrants were referred to the provincial migration office.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for refugees and migrants aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey's decision to open the border came after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed by forces of the Bashar Assad regime in Idlib in northwestern Syria. Turkish soldiers had been stationed in the area to protect local civilians as part of a 2018 deal with Russia forbidding acts of aggression within a certain delineation.
The latest humanitarian crisis in Idlib, caused by Assad's attacks on civilian-populated areas, has forced nearly a million people to move near the Turkish border for refuge. The renewed attacks risked another wave of migration to Turkey, which already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot take in any more. Turkey accuses the European Union of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.
In response to the lack of humanitarian and financial aid from the international community and the attack on Turkish soldiers, Ankara began allowing refugees to migrate toward Europe through land borders. Since then, thousands of migrants and refugees have flocked to the Turkish province of Edirne along the border with Greece and Bulgaria to make their way into Europe. Most recently, Turkish authorities have settled a large number of refugees and migrants, previously waiting at the Greek border at repatriation centers due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
Greece has been widely criticized for using excessive force, including the firing of water cannons and tear gas to repel incoming migrants. The Human Rights Watch urged Greece and the EU to respect human rights in light of Turkey's new policy of refusing to halt migrants and refugees trying to leave for Greece. The international human rights group also criticized a decision by Athens to suspend new asylum applications until April and summarily deport those arriving in last month's surge. Also, inhumane conditions in Greece’s refugee camps have been another point of heavy criticism.