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US troops rushed to evacuate embassy staff from Sudan, but thousands of Americans remain with advice to 'shelter in place'

Ryan Pickrell   

US troops rushed to evacuate embassy staff from Sudan, but thousands of Americans remain with advice to 'shelter in place'
  • US special operators evacuated American embassy personnel from Sudan, where intense fighting continues.
  • Thousands of Americans, however, remain in country and have been warned to "shelter in place."

US special operations forces rushed into a bloody fight in Sudan over the weekend to evacuate diplomatic personnel from a rapidly deteriorating situation, but while the mission was a success, there are still thousands of Americans in country.

Around a hundred special operations forces — including members of SEAL Team Six and the Army's 3rd Special Forces Group, per The Washington Post — conducted the evacuation of the US Embassy in Khartoum using MH-47 Chinook helicopters that flew roughly 1,600 miles round-trip.

"The operation was fast and clean, with service members spending less than an hour on the ground in Khartoum," Lt. Gen. D.A. Sims, Director of Operations, Joint Staff J3, said during a special late Saturday night briefing. "As we speak, the evacuees are safe and secure." Sims told reporters that the helicopters didn't take any fire during the mission and were able to get in and out "without issue."

Around 70 people were evacuated from the embassy compound, The Associated Press reported. Several other countries have also evacuated their embassies.

News of the evacuation came after reports last week that an American diplomatic convoy had come under fire in Sudan amid the ongoing fighting and that the US was moving troops to nearby Djibouti in preparation for a possible mission to get embassy staff out of Khartoum.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that an estimated 16,000 Americans, many of whom hold dual citizenship, remain in Sudan, where they have been encouraged to "shelter in place." One American has been killed so far in the violence, according to the State Department.

In security alerts sent out last week, the US Embassy in Khartoum said that "US citizens are strongly advised to remain indoors, shelter in place until further notice and avoid travel to the US embassy," adding that "due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and closure of the airport, it is not currently safe to undertake a US government-coordinated evacuation of private US citizens."

Sudan erupted in violent conflict a little over a week ago as forces loyal to Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, commander of the Sudanese army, and Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, clashed in the streets. The two generals have been locked in a power struggle since they orchestrated a coup together a few years ago, and that spat has now reached a boiling point.

The fighting has left nearly 500 people dead and several thousand more injured.

The US Embassy, which has suspended operations, said in its latest security alert that the US remains committed to helping American citizens still in Sudan but cautioned that "the security situation throughout Sudan continues to be violent and unpredictable due to ongoing armed conflict, with active fighting in country and uncertain safety conditions."

It further recommended "carefully considering routes and the risks of travel, because roads may be crowded, exposed to combat operations, or have deteriorated infrastructure due to damage to bridges, roads, and facilities."

In response to Insider's request for comment on Americans left behind in Sudan, a State Department press officer said that the department is "in communication with U.S. citizens requesting assistance departing Sudan, and their families in the United States."

The officer noted though that "this is an unfolding situation, and we cannot provide more details for security reasons."

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