On Sunday, U.S. special operations forces carried out a dangerous evacuation of the American embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. The operation lasted less than an hour and involved no gunfire or major casualties. The last U.S. employee of the embassy was evacuated, and the embassy has been closed indefinitely. However, thousands of American citizens remain in Sudan.
Broader Evacuation Mission Deemed Too Dangerous
The ongoing conflict between two Sudanese commanders, which has left over 400 people dead, has made it too dangerous to carry out a broader evacuation mission. Roads out of the country are controlled by armed men, and the main international airport remains closed due to the fighting. President Joe Biden has been receiving regular reports on efforts to assist remaining Americans in Sudan to the extent possible. He has also called for an end to the “unconscionable” violence in the country.
U.S. Africa Command Conducts Evacuation
Around 100 U.S. troops in three MH-47 helicopters carried out the evacuation of embassy personnel. They airlifted roughly 70 remaining American employees to an undisclosed location in Ethiopia. Ethiopia provided overflight and refueling support, while Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia also assisted with the evacuation. U.S. Africa Command and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley were in contact with both warring factions before and during the operation to ensure safe passage for U.S. forces. However, claims by one faction, Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, that it assisted in the U.S. evacuation were denied by U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bass.
The violence in Sudan broke out on April 15 between two commanders who had jointly orchestrated a military coup 18 months earlier. The ongoing power struggle between armed forces chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and head of the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo has left millions of Sudanese cowering in their homes. An estimated 16,000 private U.S. citizens are registered with the embassy as being in Sudan, but not all Americans register with the embassy or say when they depart.
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