By Gokhan Duzyol
AYDIN, Turkey (AA) - Turkey rescued 79 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea after they were pushed back by Greek authorities, the Turkish Coast Guard Command said late Monday.
In a statement on its website, the Turkish Coast Guard said that on Oct. 23, Turkish forces rescued 33 people in a rubber boat off Kusadasi district in Aydin province who were pushed into Turkish territorial waters by Greek authorities.
In a separate incident in the same area on Oct. 24, Turkish forces rescued 25 irregular migrants who were pushed into Turkish waters by Greece, the statement added.
Separately, on Oct. 11, coast guard teams rescued 21 irregular migrants in a rubber boat off Didim district in Aydin.
They were transferred to the provincial migration office.
Earlier this month, the European Union expressed concern over migrant pushbacks, saying such incidents damage the bloc's reputation.
"Some of these reports are shocking, and I'm extremely concerned," Ylva Johansson, the EU’s commissioner for home affairs, told reporters, referring to a joint investigation by media outlets Der Spiegel, ARD and Liberation.
The investigation unearthed evidence that Greek, Croatian and Romanian authorities have been violently pushing back asylum seekers crossing the bloc's external borders.
Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.