The United States evacuates American diplomats from Sudan

(CNN) – US President Joe Biden said on Saturday that US government employees have been evacuated from Sudan.

“Today, following my orders, the US military conducted an operation to extract US government personnel from Khartoum,” Biden said in a statement.

In a separate statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said all US personnel and their families had been evacuated and that operations at the US Embassy in Khartoum had been “temporarily suspended”.

Just over 100 special operations forces were involved in the extraction. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the operation was led by US Africa Command and carried out in close coordination with the State Department.

The decision to evacuate US personnel comes after a week of intense fighting between rival military factions, the Sudanese Armed Forces, and the Rapid Support Forces, which has left hundreds dead and thousands wounded.

Despite statements by both sides that they agreed to this ceasefire, fighting continued.

The US Embassy in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. ashraf el-shazly/AFP/Getty Images/File

‘The only really possible option’

“Rampant fighting … poses an unacceptable risk to our embassy staff,” Blinken said, noting, “Suspending operations at one of our embassies is always a difficult decision, but the safety of our staff is my number one responsibility.”

On Saturday, the Under Secretary of State for Administration, John Bass, said closing the embassy temporarily was “the only really feasible option for us in this situation.”

“As a result of the intensity of the conflict, challenges to our diplomatic staff in conducting essential operations, and uncertainty about future availability of key supplies such as fuel and food, we have decided it is time to suspend operations,” he told reporters on a media call.

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John Bass said fewer than 100 people had been evacuated from the US embassy, ​​including “a small number of specialist diplomats from other countries”.

“We don’t have US government personnel in Khartoum at this time,” Bass concluded, but there is still “a significant number of our local staff who support the embassy in a caretaker mode.”

Lt. Gen. D.A. Sims, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the evacuation planning was “anything but haphazard.”

He added that US special operations forces spent less than an hour on the ground in Sudan during the evacuation. The troops took off from Djibouti at 9 am (Miami time) and disembarked in Ethiopia to refuel before heading to Khartoum.

Evacuation is accomplished in one motion via a rotating wing. The process was quick and clean, with service personnel spending less than an hour on the ground in the hose. “As we speak, the evacuees are safe and sound.”

CNN’s Iyad Kurdi contributed to this report.

Sacha Woodward

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