Britain, France, Greece, Italy also evacuated staff from Sudan due to violence
In a daring operation carried out by elite U.S. military forces, dozens of American diplomats were safely evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, amid escalating violence and threats to embassy staff. SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group were involved in the clandestine evacuation.
The operation was carried out in secret, with little information released about the exact details of the mission. However, a senior Pentagon official has confirmed that the Americans were airlifted out on three MH-47 Chinook helicopters that flew first from Djibouti and then refueled in Ethiopia.
The helicopters went in at night, flying low-level, and were on the ground for a little more than half an hour. The operation was carried out without incident, and no shots were fired.
BREAKING: 70 American diplomats and their families have just been evacuated from the US embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. Details:
– A U.S Forces Mission consisting of 6 aircraft were deployed for the evacuation.
– This came a few hours after the U.S. Embassy in Sudan issued a… pic.twitter.com/6Dd94tBXLZ
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) April 23, 2023
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has thanked authorities in Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, saying they were “critical to the success of this operation.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner praised the U.S. military and intelligence community for the operation, calling it a “dangerous mission.”
Meanwhile, aid workers and Sudanese Americans who remain in the country have been urged to “shelter in place” while the U.S. works with international partners to arrange a “safe way to get them evacuated,” likely via a land corridor. Most of the thousands of Americans still in Sudan are aid workers or Sudanese Americans, according to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner.
The violence in Sudan erupted on April 15 and has killed more than 400 people, according to the World Health Organization. The violence has paralyzed Sudan’s airports, destroying civilian planes and damaging runways.
European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said Sunday he spoke to leaders of both sides in the conflict, urging an immediate ceasefire, protection of civilians, and guaranteed safe evacuation of EU citizens.
Pope Francis also urged the faithful to pray for “our Sudanese brothers and sisters,” appealing for an immediate end to violence “and a return to the path of dialogue.”
The conflict is between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, with the power struggle coming amid hopes for a democratic transition.
The rival generals came to power after a pro-democracy uprising led to the ouster of former strongman and longtime ruler, Omar al-Bashir. In 2021, they joined forces to seize power in a coup. The current violence came after Burhan and Dagalo fell out over a recent internationally brokered deal with democracy activists that was meant to eventually lead to civilian rule.
The U.S. suspended operations at its embassy in Khartoum due to the increasing violence, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the U.S. will continue to press efforts to bring an end to the fighting and a return to the process of transition to civilian government.
“The suspension of operations at the U.S. Embassy in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum was a difficult decision, but the safety of U.S. diplomats must come first,” said Blinken.
Other countries, including Britain, France, Greece, and Italy, have also evacuated their staff from Sudan due to the violence.
In addition to the American diplomatic convoy being attacked, foreign diplomats and aid workers have also been killed, injured, or assaulted in numerous incidents. The U.S. and international partners continue to press for an end to the fighting and a return to the transition to civilian government.