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Erdogan Says Turkish Currency Under 'Attack'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey's currency crisis is the result of an "attack" on his country's economy.

Erdogan made the remarks in an August 20 speech ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday as a dispute worsens with Washington over Turkey's continued detention of an American pastor and its pledge to buy Russian S-400 missile systems.

In a pre-recorded address to the Turkish people ahead of the start of the four-day holiday, Erdogan said the aim of those he blamed for Turkey's currency crisis was to bring "Turkey and its people to their knees."

But he said Turkey had the power and ability to overcome the crisis.

Washington has imposed sanctions against its NATO ally over the imprisoned pastor and has increased tariffs in a move that sent the Turkish lira tumbling last week.

Evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, currently under house arrest after more than 1½ years in prison, faces up to 35 years in a Turkish prison if convicted there of espionage and terrorism-related charges.

Turkish prosecutors claim Brunson had ties with the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has accused of orchestrating Turkey's failed 2016 military coup.

Turkish authorities are holding more than a dozen other U.S. citizens, including a Turkish-American NASA scientist and a visiting chemistry professor from Pennsylvania, as well as three local staff members of the U.S. consulate.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called for Brunson's immediate release and threatened more sanctions.

Last week, Trump signed a defense spending bill that includes delaying the delivery of F-35 fighter jets pending a Pentagon report. U.S. lawmakers have been working to block their delivery in response to Brunson's arrest and Turkey's pledge to buy Russian S-400 missile systems.

Amid the heightened tensions, shots were fired at a security booth outside of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara early on August 20.

U.S. officials say nobody was hurt in that incident, which happened while the embassy was closed for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Turkish news agencies said a handgun was fired four or five times from a moving car as it sped past one of the U.S. Embassy's gates.

Police in Ankara said on August 20 that they were searching for the car involved in the incident.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP