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What do you expect in Baghdad?

By Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 4, 2003

Don Lilienthal, 78

Jones Restaurant, 200 NE U.S. 19, in Crystal River "I don't think it's going to be another Stalingrad," said Don Lilienthal, referring to the months-long World War II battle that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Lilienthal, a retired South Florida general contractor and banker who now lives in Pine Ridge, predicted that Baghdad "will fold internally" after a week or so of fighting on the periphery.
Don Lilienthal

"When the people finally realize that Saddam and his regime are gone, they'll have courage enough to come out and applaud the action of the coalition forces," he said. A protracted urban fight, he said, would strip the coalition of its main advantage.

"When you go house to house, it's one soldier against another, each armed with a single automatic rifle. There goes your technological advantage down the drain."

Tommie McNeil, 65

Frogue's Hair Styling, 3333 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg
Tommie McNeil
As U.S. troops moved closer to Baghdad on Thursday, Tommie McNeil wondered whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would now unleash chemical and biological weapons.

"After they enter Baghdad I hope that chemical and biological weapons don't start," McNeil said while getting a shampoo and an eyebrow arch.

McNeil believes Hussein might be waiting for throngs of U.S. troops to enter Baghdad before using such weapons.

"I feel if he's going to use them he will try to (kill) as many (U.S. and allied troops) as he can," said McNeil, a St. Petersburg resident who works in the health care field. McNeil's daughter and son-in-law served in the military and now work for the U.S. government in Saudi Arabia.

As the showdown unfolds, McNeil will pray: "I pray every day that our troops will come back from over there the way they left here."

Johnnie May Garner, 76

Brandon Senior Center, 612 N Parsons Ave., Valrico
Johnnie May Garner
Johnnie May Garner, a retired schoolteacher who lives in Progress Village, is confident coalition forces will be victorious in Baghdad.

"The U.S. and Britain are going to be successful," she said. "They're going to find Saddam if he isn't already dead. They're moving along. It's going to take a while to straighten things out but the fighting will be over."

Still, she is concerned that the troops will face a tougher battle in the city than they have in the desert.

"When they do go into Baghdad, they're going to find those chemical weapons," she said. "They (Iraqis) may use them. That's what I'm afraid of. That's when it's going to become dangerous.

"You can't really predict what's going to happen. You hope that it's going to work out."

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