The U.S. suspended operations at its embassy in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum amid ongoing violence in Sudan.
Generals of the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces have been fighting after conflict during negotiations for a civilian-led government broke down. It's resulted in hundreds of deaths, including that of an American citizen caught in the crossfire.
President Joe Biden ordered the military to evacuate government personnel on Saturday.
"This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. It's unconscionable and it must stop. The belligerent parties must implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan. We are temporarily suspending operations at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, but our commitment to the Sudanese people and the future they want for themselves is unending," President Biden stated.
Defense officials said just over 100 special operation forces troops conducted the operation that was "fast and clean," evacuating under 100 people. Some local staff are supporting the embassy in 'caretaker' status.
On Sunday, President Biden wrote a letter to Congress notifying them that "United States Armed Forces personnel will remain deployed in Djibouti" until further notice and that additional forces are "prepared to deploy to the region if required."
"As a result of the intensity of the conflict, and the challenges that our diplomatic personnel were experiencing, in conducting basic operations, and the uncertainty about the availability of key supplies like fuel and food going forward, we reluctantly decided it was time to suspend operations," said U.S. Secretary of State for Management John Bass.
Officials do not foresee coordinating a U.S. government evacuation for U.S. citizens who remain in Sudan but noted that they are in close touch.
"In the coming days, we will continue to work with the State Department to help American citizens who may want to leave Sudan, as has already been stated. One of those ways is to potentially make the overland route out of Sudan potentially more viable. So [the Department of Defense] is at present considering actions that may include: use of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats; secondly, the employment of naval assets outside the Port of Sudan to potentially help Americans who arrive at the port; and third, the establishment at the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart of a deconfliction cell focused particularly on the overland route," said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Chris Maier.
Officials reiterated close contact with Sudan's military and civilian leaders, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking twice with the generals over the past week.
"I reiterate my call to both sides to urgently extend and expand the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire to a sustainable cessation of hostilities to prevent further damage to the Sudanese nation. We remind both belligerents of their obligations under international humanitarian law, including obligations related to the protection of civilians. The United States, in partnership with the region and international community, will continue to press efforts to bring an end to this fighting and a return to the process of transition to civilian government," Blinken said in a statement.
Samantha Power, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced on Sunday that a team of disaster response experts has been sent to Sudan to coordinate the humanitarian response in the region amid the ongoing conflicts.
In a statement
"For more than a week, fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Sudan has claimed hundreds of lives, injured thousands, and yet again dashed the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people. Civilians trapped in their homes cannot access desperately needed medicines, and face the prospect of protracted power, water, and food shortages," Power said in a statement.
Power reiterated for the parties to abide by the three-day ceasefire agreement for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday and "end this reckless bloodshed."
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