The Turkish coast guard rescued 40 migrants and refugees late Tuesday who were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish waters off the Aegean coast, according to security sources.
The coast guard team was dispatched to the area off the coast of Kuşadası district in Aydın province after receiving information that the asylum seekers were stranded on a dinghy.
They were brought to the shore on a coast guard vessel before being transferred to the provincial migration office.
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.
The country opened its gates earlier this year to asylum-seekers seeking to cross to Europe, accusing the European Union of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.
Turkish officials criticize the Greek coast guard and forces for their inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees.
On Tuesday, Greek forces opened fire on a boat, injuring three people on board, including two Turkish nationals and a Syrian national.
On Monday, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu slammed Greece and the European border agency FRONTEX for their “brutish” treatment of migrants and refugees.
The interior minister noted that FRONTEX and Greek officials sink boats, remove their fuel tanks and unlawfully push migrants and refugees back into Turkish territorial waters. He added that sometimes they call Turkey's Coast Guard Command to rescue the migrants after pushing them back.
In July, Turkish officials released video footage showing FRONTEX and the Greek coast guard violating European Union law and regulations by pushing back migrants and refugees trying to reach Greece.
Outraged by the Greek coast guard’s brutality, the Coast Guard Command told them over the radio that Turkey would raise the issue on international platforms.