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Turkey Claims Aegean Rescue of Refugees Turkey Sent To Greece

Turkey's Coast Guard said it saved 59 refugees and migrants it said were pushed back into the Aegean by Greek forces, send there by human traffickers that Turkey allows to operate without penalty.

The report came from Turkey's pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah that is a propaganda mouthpiece for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who won't tolerate independent media or criticism and has jailed dozens of journalists.

The paper said that Turkey's Coast Guard saw the migrants on rubber boats off the coast of Ayvacık in Çanakkale province in Western Turkey and heroically saved them after saying they were repelled by Greek patrols, no proof given.

Turkey's five Aegean provinces – Çanakkale, Balıkesir, Izmir, Muğla and Aydın – are prime spots for refugees leaving Turkey for the European Union, with Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast, the paper said.

Under an essentially-suspended swap deal with the European Union, which closed its doors to refugees and migrants and largely dumped the problem on Greece, Turkey is supposed to contain them.

But human traffickers in Turkey keep operating and the EU hasn't imposed sanctions while all the criticism has fallen on Greece for alleged pushbacks and not wanting to take in more, the country already holding some 100,000.

Turkey has some 4.4 million refugees and migrants who fled war, strife and economic hardship in their countries and there are fears that will swell precipitously as Afghans flee their country after its fall to the Taliban. 

Hundreds of people have died at sea as a number of boats carrying refugees sank or capsized. The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued thousands of others, the paper said.

Pushbacks are against international law but Greece's New Democracy government has denied the practice although human rights groups and activists said it's ongoing

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