Coalition forces could enter Baghdad within the next three or four days, a spokesman for British forces in the Persian Gulf said Friday.

In western England, meanwhile, American B-52 bombers roared away from the Royal Air Force base in Fairford. The U.S. Air Force had no comment on the bombers' mission.

Group Capt. Al Lockwood said at the main allied command center in Qatar that the U.S.-led forces could enter the Iraqi capital swiftly.

"If I was a betting man, and I'm not, I would say hopefully within the next three or four days," the British news agency Press Association quoted him as saying.

However, another British spokesman, Maj. William Mackinley, stressed that Lockwood was only speculating.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw mourned eight British Marines, killed along with four Americans in the crash of a U.S. Marine helicopter in Kuwait. The cause was under investigation, but officials said the helicopter had not been shot down.

"Those service people who lost their lives and their loved ones are obviously uppermost in our hearts at the moment," Straw told BBC radio.

Britain has sent some 45,000 military personnel to the Persian Gulf to join in the U.S.-led attack.