BAGHDAD - An Iraqi militia on Thursday issued a threat against Turkish interests in Iraq, responding to what it described as Turkey's "blatant interference" in the country's internal affairs.

Relations between Turkey and Iraq have been deteriorating over the past year, with the two countries trading accusations of inciting sectarian tensions, and summoning each other's ambassadors in tit-for-tat manoeuvres.

Ankara has angered Baghdad by cultivating close ties with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, which has defied the central government by signing contracts with foreign oil firms.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan this week accused Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki's government of behaving in a sectarian manner and warned Iraq was in danger of being plunged into strife like that in neighboring Syria.

"We refute and denounce the recent comments of the Turkish prime minister and consider them a blatant interference in the internal affairs of Iraq," read a statement released by Asaib al-Haq, which carried out some of the most prominent attacks on foreigners during the Iraq war.

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