At 1808 GMT (1:08 p.m. EST, 9:08 p.m. Baghdad) B-52 bombers were reported taking off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom. Flying time to Iraq is about six hours. Earlier today, they were reportedly loaded with cruise missiles. The British press has also reported that skirmishing has commenced between Iraqi troops and U.S. and British special operations forces near Basra. Coalition aircraft also have attacked 10 Iraqi artillery pieces in the southern no-fly zone, and Israelis have been ordered to open and fit their gas masks, keeping them nearby at all times.
Six hours flight time means 7pm Eastern, give or take. But you don’t have to be over Baghdad to launch cruise missiles at targets there, you can launch them from quite some distance away.
UPDATE: Sandy P comments that, “Rantburg‘s got that posted and either misinformation or wrong, they never took off, according to a reply.”
StratFor has made some pretty bad calls before, but on the analysis side, not on deployments and actions. We’ll see.