The U.S. military has successfully evacuated American government employees from their embassy in Khartoum amid continued violence in Sudan that has claimed hundreds of lives, the White House confirmed late Saturday night.
According to CBS News’ David Martin, the ambassadors spent around 30 minutes on the ground in Dijbouti on Sunday before taking off for Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany at around 2:30 a.m. ET.
President Joe Biden stated that the United States was “temporarily suspending operations” at the embassy in a statement made after the departure.
According to Mr. Biden, he gave the go-ahead for the evacuation operation. He was “grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought” the American diplomats “to safety.”
The temporary shutdown of the American Embassy was also confirmed by the State Department, which added that “the U.S. government cannot provide routine or emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Sudan, due to the current security situation.”
In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called the evacuation a “successful operation,” and thanked “our allies and partners, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia.”
Just over 100 American soldiers, all members of special operations forces, carried out the evacuation, according to a briefing held by the State Department and the Pentagon overnight.
Less than 100 people were evacuated from the embassy, including some foreign diplomats who were there and Marines who had been stationed there on assignment. During the “fast and clean” operation, troops were on the ground for less than an hour. According to American sources, U.S. forces did not encounter any small weapons fire from or leaving Khartoum.
During the conference call with the media, American officials stated they do not currently anticipate organizing an evacuation of other Americans still in Sudan.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, CBS News reported that the evacuation of some 70 U.S. government employees had been planned all week.
Mr. Biden stated that he was concerned about American civilians who were still stranded in Sudan. “receiving regular reports from” his “team on their ongoing work to assist Americans in Sudan, to the extent possible. We are also working closely with our allies and partners in this effort.”
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Many American citizens live in Sudan; 500 were mentioned to congressional sources. According to some documents, the State Department recognizes that there may be 16,000 Americans in Sudan, but authorities believe that number to be exaggerated.
Before the embassy staff was evacuated, sources with knowledge of the planning had told CBS News that American civilians would not be involved in that evacuation.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, had stated on Friday that efforts were being made to move American government employees to the embassy’s relatively safe quarters and that American citizens would ensure their safety and leave the country.
Kirby had acknowledged that the personnel movements were part of the preparation for an evacuation. “We want to be ready for that eventuality if it comes to that,” but cautioned that “it is a very dangerous situation in Khartoum, as the fighting continues.”
On April 17, as security worked to return Americans to the facility, a U.S. diplomatic convoy carrying the American flag was fired upon.
According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the RSF, a paramilitary organization under General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, was likely behind the shootings. He branded it a “reckless” and “irresponsible” crime.
In a statement provided to CBS News on Saturday night, Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that “there will be consequences for those who interfere in the safe passage of American citizens, including our diplomats, who are fleeing indiscriminate violence in Khartoum and throughout Sudan.”
McCaul pleaded for “regional partners to support the safe evacuation of civilians leaving Sudan.”
Early this month, fierce fighting broke out between two opposing Sudanese generals. Even though there have been several declared ceasefires, shooting has continued.
At least 420 people have died in Sudan since the violence started earlier this month, according to the most recent figures released on Saturday by the World Health Organization. The State Department said an American citizen perished in the violence on Thursday.
The Pentagon has admitted that Djibouti had received special operators to help with the evacuation. In addition, the Defense Department declared that it was ready.
“We deployed some forces into the theater to ensure that we provide as many options as possible if we are called on to do something, and we haven’t been called on to do anything yet. No decision on anything has been made,” Austin told reporters at a Friday news conference.
The leaders of various nations have urged General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to permit their people and diplomatic personnel to depart, the Sudanese Armed Forces announced on Facebook on Friday.
Al-Burhan had promised to offer the required support, and the post predicted that the evacuation of diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, and China would begin immediately.
When friendly nations wanted to evacuate their citizens, RSF tweeted on Friday that they were prepared to partially open all airports. The State Department reports that the border between Sudan and neighboring Chad is still closed, as is Khartoum International Airport.
Since April 8, when al-Burhan dissolved a power-sharing committee and declared his desire to organize elections this year, there have been clashes between the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces.
The leadership of the two factions had united in 2019 to topple Sudan’s cruel ruler Omar al-Bashir, and they had previously been partners.
The choice of which generally will be under the other’s command coincides with the transition to civilian government. Due to this choice, the conflict has become more intense, and Sudan’s cities’ situation has worsened.
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For almost 4 years, Jason Martin has been a freelance writer for newspapers, journals, blogs, books, and online material. He covers the most recent news as well as many other topics.