Turkey rescues dinghy of 13 Syrian refugees rebuffed by Greece – report

Turkish authorities rescued 13 Syrian refugees in the Aegean Sea after the Greek coastguard forced them back as they attempted to cross into Greek waters, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

Anadolu quoted security sources as saying the 13 Syrian asylum seekers, including children, were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard from a rubber boat off the coast of Bodrum in the southeastern Muğla province.

Last month, Greece ramped up its border security to prevent a mass influx of migrants after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would allow them to freely cross Turkey’s borders. Turkey is currently hosting some 4 million refugees, the majority of whom came to the country to escape the Syrian conflict, and the country lies on an important route of migration to Europe.

Greek security forces have faced criticism for their hard-line approach to people attempting to cross to the country. Video footage shot last month showed Greek coastguards harassing a dinghy loaded with migrants, and Turkish media reports said they had stripped and beaten those who crossed the land border before sending them back to Turkey.

But Greek officials say the Turkish government has breached the terms of a deal it reached with the European Union to curb migration in 2016 and is using its large population of migrants to blackmail its EU neighbours.