The asylum seekers had been stripped of their clothes and shoes by Greek authorities and froze to death, the Turkish Interior minister said.

Turkiye has frequently held neighbouring Greece accountable of illegally pushing back migrants and asylum seekers wanting to make their way into Europe.
Turkiye has frequently held neighbouring Greece accountable of illegally pushing back migrants and asylum seekers wanting to make their way into Europe. (AA)

Turkish authorities have recovered 12 bodies believed to be those of asylum seekers who were pushed back by Greece.

The bodies were found near the Ipsala border crossing between Turkiye and Greece, Turkiye's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Wednesday.

They were found frozen to death “without shoes and stripped of their clothes,” by Greek border guards at their land border.

The 12 were among 22 asylum seekers who were pushed back into Turkiye by Greek border guards, Soylu said via Twitter.

The tweet showed blurred photographs of bodies lying by the side of a road.

The minister did not provide further details but accused Greek border units of acting “cruelly” and the European Union of being soft on Greece.

READ MORE: I can’t swim’: Last words of migrant pushed into sea by Greek Coast Guard

Turkish teams continue to conduct search and rescue missions in the area for asylum seekers who may need medical assistance, it added.

An investigation has been launched in to the incident, it said.

Turkiye has been a key transit point for migrants and asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Illegal pushbacks

Turkiye and international human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back migrants and asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable people, including women and children, as Turkiye continues efforts to rescue those migrants and asylum seekers.

Greece has denied the accusations, despite evidence piling on the pushbacks.

Turkiye is a major crossing point for migrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a better life in European Union countries.

Most try to cross into Greece by either crossing the northeastern land border or cramming into smuggling boats headed for the eastern Aegean Sea islands.

READ MORE: Turkish rescuers save over a dozen asylum seekers pushed back by Greece 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies