Peter Kenyon

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrapped up his Middle East tour in Turkey this morning with more talks aimed at defusing tensions in northern Syria. But at a press conference, Tillerson sounded a cautious note about U.S.-Turkish relations.

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Turkey's military offensive in northwest Syria, dubbed "Operation Olive Branch," has alarmed several countries and led to an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council. It pits U.S. ally and NATO member Turkey against a Kurdish fighting force armed and trained by the United States as part of the fight to defeat ISIS in Syria.

The fighting has thrown a spotlight on the confusing and at times conflicting alliances and goals in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.

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In Iran, antigovernment protests are in their fourth day, and the powerful Revolutionary Guard is warning demonstrators will pay the price. Two protesters were killed Saturday night. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports the government is seeking to blame the unrest on what it calls foreign agents.

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Turkey was once considered by the West to be a model Muslim democracy. It's been a critical U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS. And yet in 2017, Turkey has continued to become more and more authoritarian.

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And now let's turn to NPR's Peter Kenyon, who covered the nuclear deal and continues to cover Iran. Peter, what struck you about what you just heard?

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Two deadlines are approaching that may signal the fate of the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The agreement saw Iran sharply curtail its nuclear program and allow extensive inspections in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

It has been 18 years since a magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit northwest Turkey, killing some 17,000 people and leaving half a million homeless. A series of government initiatives were designed to make the next big quake less deadly. But experts are warning that some of those protections have been lost in a rush to develop urban green spaces into lucrative apartment buildings and shopping malls.

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This weekend, people across Turkey are recalling the shocking attempted coup of last July 15 and remembering the 249 civilians who died resisting the effort to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The government has declared a national holiday, "Democracy and National Unity Day." But Turkey remains deeply divided a year after the coup attempt, and the sweeping crackdown that followed.

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