For more than a week, Khartoum, Sudan’s capital city, has been the site of urban warfare — with gunshots ringing out in the city center and fighter jets thundering across apartment blocks.
A weekend ceasefire had been agreed upon, but with no guarantee it would hold, U.S. special forces executed a dangerous operation to evacuate Americans.
Troops, including the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, departed on Saturday from Camp Lemonnier, the American military base in Djibouti. After refueling in Ethiopia, they landed late at night in Sudan’s capital.
It took less than an hour on the ground to airlift nearly 90 people from the U.S. compound before heading back to Djibouti at 115 mph, protected overhead by attack aircraft.
The United Nations has been evacuating aid workers together with other foreign nationals, including Americans, by land — a journey of more than 500 miles to the Port of Sudan. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the U.S. will help facilitate the rest of their travels.
“We have deployed U.S. intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets to support land evacuation routes which Americans are using and we’re moving naval assets within the region to provide support,” he said.
But there are still hundreds of U.S. citizens trapped in Sudan. Mohammed Ahmed was in the country for his father’s funeral and was trying to get a bus ticket to Egypt, his wife Jacee said.
“You know he doesn’t show it if he’s terrified,” she told CBS News. “There are times where he’s having to make me feel better. Then I feel bad. But he’s Sudan strong.”
For the citizens of Sudan caught up in the violence, there is no option for a quick escape.
Rival generals are locked in a battle for power, turning Khartoum into a personal battlezone and triggering a humanitarian crisis amid fears of a prolonged civil war
There are currently no plans to send U.S. peacekeeping troops to Sudan, with Sullivan saying the U.S. isn’t even considering putting American boots on the ground.