Six migrants including two babies died at sea after Greece pushed them back to Turkish waters in the Aegean, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the Turkish coastguard on Tuesday.
Another 73 migrants were also rescued off Muğla province in the southwest, the coastguard said.
The migrants were pushed back to Turkish waters by Greek forces in four boats, according to the coastguard, who cited a detailed interview with the migrants.
Their nationalities were not immediately known, but they are believed to have set out from Tripoli in Lebanon on Saturday in a wooden boat — with the ultimate goal of reaching Italy.
But they requested assistance from Greek security forces after their fuel ran out off the Greek island of Rhodes on Monday, the Turkish coastguard said, citing migrants’ testimonies.
“It was found out that after they were put on a Greek coastguard boat and their valuables were taken, they were put on a total of four boats at a location close to Turkish territorial waters and left to drift,” the coastguard said.
Ankara regularly accuses Greek officials of illegally pushing migrants back into its territory, but Athens denies the claims.
Greece in turn claims Turkey is turning a blind eye to people trying to reach Europe via its border, in violation of a 2016 deal between Ankara and the EU.