The spokesman said it was not clear whether the pipeline was the export route that leads to Turkey.

  

The segment of the pipeline that has been hit by fire, near the town of Hawija, transports crude from Kirkuk to Baija, home of Iraq's biggest refinery.

   

Iraqi oil pipelines, including the crucial one to Turkey, have been hit by a spate of explosions triggered by resistance fighters.

 

This has affected US plans to revive significant crude exports from Iraq.