Saturday, July 20, 2024

US government personnel in Sudan to be evacuated, sources say


US government personnel in Sudan are to be evacuated, sources familiar with the matter told CBS News. The evacuation of about 70 US citizens working for the US government in Sudan has been in the planning stages throughout the week, and Sudan’s military said on Saturday it expected countries including the US to begin the evacuation “in the coming hours”. .

The US evacuation from Khartoum will include about 70 US personnel but hundreds of US citizens in Sudan – 500 was the number shared with congressional sources – sources familiar with the US plan have told CBS News. The State Department acknowledges that some records suggest as many as 16,000 US citizens may be in Sudan, but officials view these figures as exaggerated.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that operations were still underway at the time to bring US government personnel into the relative safety of the embassy, ​​and that US citizens would be responsible for their own safety and exit from the country.

Kirby acknowledged that personnel movements were part of the preparations for the evacuation. “We want to be prepared for that eventuality, if it comes,” but warned “It is a very dangerous situation in Khartoum, because the fighting continues.”

A US diplomatic convoy flying the US flag was fired upon on Monday while security personnel tried to bring Americans back into the compound. Secretary Blinken called it a “reckless” and “irresponsible” act, and said that forces aligned with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, likely took the shots.

Intense fighting between two rival Sudanese generals Broke up earlier this month. Although there have been calls for a ceasefire several times, shelling continues regardlessThe State Department said a US citizen died in Sudan on Thursday.

As of Saturday afternoon, no decision had been made public about whether the State Department would close the US embassy or what would happen to the dozens of local non-US employees employed there.

Throughout the week, the Biden administration has been working to gather American personnel into the diplomatic compound in the capital city of Khartoum. The Pentagon acknowledged that special operators had been transferred to Djibouti to assist in the evacuation.

The Defense Department also said they are on standby, with Secretary Lloyd Austin telling reporters at a news conference, “We have deployed some forces in theater to make sure we are there as much as possible when called upon to do something.” Offer that much option, and we haven’t been called on to do anything yet. No decision has been made on anything.”

On Friday, the Sudanese Armed Forces posted on facebook that his General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has received calls from leaders of several countries to allow their citizens and diplomatic staff to evacuate. The post said that al-Burhan has agreed to provide the necessary assistance and that the evacuation of diplomats from the United States, Britain, France and China is expected to begin immediately.

RSF Tweeted on Friday that they are prepared to partially open all airports to friendly countries that want to evacuate their citizens.

The two groups have been at loggerheads since April 8, when al-Burhan dissolved a power-sharing council and announced his intention to hold elections this year.

Until recently, the two groups were allies whose leadership came together in 2019 to overthrow Sudan’s brutal dictator Omar al-Bashir. The return to civilian rule came with a decision as to which general would be subordinate to the other. The decision sparked heavy fighting earlier this month and has worsened the situation in Sudan’s cities.

Margaret Brennan, Christina Ruffini, Eleanor Watson, Haley Ott and Caitlin Yilek contributed to this report

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sophia barkoff

Sophia Berkoff is a broadcast associate with CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”