During the first eight months of 2021, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued 5,964 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea who were illegally pushed back by Greece, according to an Anadolu Agency count based on official figures.
Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
The largest number of rescue operations for irregular migrants who were pushed back or stranded took place in the western province of Izmir. There, coast guards came to the rescue of 2,746 irregular migrants, including children and women whose engines were disabled by Greek elements and left to die in rubber dinghies or life vests at sea.
As of 31 August coast guards had rescued 1,146 irregular migrants pushed back by Greece in Canakkale, plus 729 irregular migrants in Balikesir, 560 in Mugla, and 738 in Aydin.
Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey hosts four million refugees, more than any country in the world.