U.S. Special Forces Swiftly Evacuate Embassy Staff from Sudan

U.S. special operations forces carried out a dangerous evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Sudan Sunday. The forces rapidly swept into and out of the capital with American helicopters on the ground for less than an hour. There were no shots fired and no significant casualties, per reports.

When the final embassy employee was out of Khartoum, the U.S. shuttered its diplomatic mission indefinitely. Thousands of U.S. officials and private American citizens remain behind. U.S. officials say it is too dangerous in the country to carry out a broader evacuation operation.

Battles between two adversarial Sudanese commanders forced the closing of the main international airport and left roads in control of armed fighters throughout the country. The fighting has so far killed more than 400 people.

President Joe Biden, in a statement thanking the troops, said he was receiving regular reports from his administration on efforts to assist remaining Americans in Sudan “to the extent possible.”

Biden also called for ending the country’s “unconscionable” violence.

Around 100 U.S. troops carried out the operation in three MH-47 helicopters. The troops airlifted the roughly 70 remaining U.S. employees from an embassy landing zone to an undisclosed location in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia also provided refueling support and overflight, said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee.

President Biden said Saudi Arabia and Djibouti also provided assistance.

“I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our Embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan,” said the president in a statement.

“I’m grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Africa Command chairman, General Mark Milley, contacted the factions before and during the operation to ensure that U.S. forces would be given safe passage to conduct the evacuation. Undersecretary of State, John Bass, denied claims by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Security Forces that it assisted in the U.S. evacuation.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said operations suspensions at the Khartoum embassy were due to the increased security risk and ensuring the personnel’s safety.

“The widespread fighting has caused significant numbers of civilian deaths and injuries and damage to essential infrastructure and posed an unacceptable risk to our Embassy personnel,” said Blinken.

After the evacuation, the State Department updated its travel advisory for Sudan to reflect the suspension of operations at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. The Sudan advisory remains at its highest warning level — where it has stayed since August 2021.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted that the success of the evacuation was due to Biden’s direction.

“We also thank our allies and partners, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, which were critical to the success of this operation,” said Austin in a statement.