A covert operation to rescue British diplomats and their families from Sudan’s warzone capital has been successfully completed. The mission began with a team of elite British troops flying into Khartoum under the cover of darkness on board an American military aircraft that was part of a separate US evacuation mission. The British soldiers left their American counterparts upon landing and drove across the city to where the UK embassy is located. The British mission and its diplomats are in an area of Khartoum that sits between Sudan’s two warring factions, making their extraction particularly perilous.
The troops met with the evacuation party of around 30 people, including children, and prepared for the extraction. They had to assess the situation on the ground, which had seen deadly fighting for the past week and a half, and work out if it was safe enough to bring them out without more back-up. In tandem with this first leg of the mission, two Royal Air Force transport planes had taken off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, operating in coordination with the French and US armed forces and with permission from the Sudanese military.
The aircraft landed on a Sudanese airfield called Wadi Seidna which is about 30km north of Khartoum, at around 1am on Sunday morning, UK time. The elite team of British soldiers with the diplomats had to travel from their assembly point in Khartoum to the airfield – a journey of about 30km, through multiple checkpoints. The potentially most hazardous stage in the UK rescue mission came next. If heavy fighting was taking place, UK defence planners had been ready to send in more aircraft and troops, with the ability to “punch through” the checkpoints and reach the diplomats.
In the event, a window opened of relative calm to allow the soldiers on the ground to drive their passengers to the airfield. A unit of troops from the two aircraft, which brought in vehicles as well for the operation, also mobilised and moved towards the incoming rescue team in case needed. At the airfield, the diplomats and families boarded the aircraft and the two British planes took off at around 9am, UK time, and headed back to Cyprus.
In conclusion, the British government successfully rescued their diplomats and their families from a dangerous warzone in Sudan’s capital. The operation was highly secretive and required coordination with the French and US armed forces, as well as permission from the Sudanese military. The soldiers had to navigate multiple checkpoints and assess the situation on the ground to ensure a safe evacuation.
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