US evacuates American diplomatic personnel from Sudan
All US diplomats and their family members are safely on their way out of Sudan on US military aircraft, and the US embassy in Khartoum has also been closed with their departure, a US official told CNN.
The decision to evacuate the American personnel comes after a week of heavy fighting between rival military factions – the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, and the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF – which has left hundreds dead and thousands wounded.
The US military deployed “additional capabilities” near Sudan in recent days to prepare for a potential evacuation of the US Embassy as American officials continued to monitor the volatile situation on the ground.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had urged the heads of the warring parties to reach a ceasefire agreement for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which would allow a potential window to evacuate US diplomats who had been sheltering in place since the violence broke out.
Despite statements from both sides that they had agreed to such a ceasefire, fighting has continued.
The SAF said in a statement earlier Saturday that its leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, had “agreed to provide the necessary assistance” to facilitate the safe evacuation of foreign citizens from the country in response to “calls from a number of heads of states.”
The RSF said in a statement posted overnight Khartoum time that they had coordinated with the US on the evacuation. CNN cannot corroborate the RSF’s claims that they helped with the evacuation.
Although the US has evacuated its diplomats, on Friday State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said that “due to uncertain security situations in Khartoum and closure of the airport, Americans should have no expectation of a US government-coordinated evacuation at this time.”
Patel said the State Department had been in touch with “several hundred American citizens who we understand to be in Sudan” to discuss “security precautions and other measures that they can take on their own.”
The State Department does not keep official counts of US citizens in foreign countries and Americans are not required to register when they go abroad. Officials told staffers Wednesday that there could be an estimated 16,000 American citizens in Sudan, most of whom are dual nationals.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.