President Joe Biden released a statement following the evacuations of U.S. Embassy personnel from violence-torn Sudan, calling the ongoing civil war “unconscionable” and exhorting “belligerent parties” to an immediate ceasefire.
“This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. It’s unconscionable, and it must stop,” Biden wrote in a press release Saturday night. “The belligerent parties must implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan.”
This image grab taken from AFPTV video footage on April 20, 2023, shows an aerial view of black smoke rising above the Khartoum International Airport amid ongoing battles between the forces of two rival generals. (AFP via Getty Images)
A satellite photo shows damaged aircraft at Sudan’s Khartoum International Airport. Fighting reportedly continued in the Sudanese capital Tuesday despite international efforts to broker a truce between two rival generals’ factions. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
The president confirmed that the U.S. has currently suspended all operations in the U.S. Embassy in Sudan as the country descends into a massive conflict. The president thanked embassy staff and the U.S. military who extracted Americans from the war-torn country early on Sunday morning.
“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,” Biden wrote. “I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety.”
Biden added the embassy has been temporarily closed but “our commitment to the Sudanese people and the future they want for themselves is unending.”
Biden went on to say he was receiving regular reports from his team on efforts to assist the remaining Americans in Sudan “to the extent possible.”
Residential buildings damaged in fighting are seen in Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, April 20, 2023. The latest attempt at a cease-fire between the rival Sudanese forces faltered as gunfire rattled the capital of Khartoum. Through the night and into Thursday morning, gunfire could be heard almost constantly across Khartoum. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
According to a statement from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, U.S. special operations forces evacuated just under 100 American staff from the U.S. Embassy Saturday. No shots were fired, and no major casualties were reported.
About 100 U.S. troops in three MH-47 helicopters carried out the operation. They airlifted all of roughly 70 remaining American employees from a landing zone at the embassy to an undisclosed location in Ethiopia. Ethiopia also provided overflight and refueling support, said Molly Phee, assistant Secretary of State for African affairs.
“[Yesterday], the U.S. military evacuated those personnel in support of the State Department closing operations at the Embassy in Khartoum,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II, the Joint Staff’s director of operations, said in a press release. “[Yesterday] at 9 a.m. Eastern, a contingent of U.S. forces lifted off from Djibouti and landed in Ethiopia.
U.S. Africa Command and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley were in contact with both warring factions before and during the operation to ensure that U.S. forces would have safe passage to conduct the evacuation. However, John Bass, a U.S. undersecretary of state, denied claims by one faction, Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Security Forces (RSF), that it assisted in the U.S. evacuation.
Biden also gave the order to evacuate the embassy from the embattled country with a few allied diplomats also being evacuated, State Department officials said in a telephonic news conference.
Destroyed military vehicles are seen in southern in Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, April 20, 2023. The latest attempt at a cease-fire between the rival Sudanese forces faltered as gunfire rattled the capital of Khartoum. Through the night and into Thursday morning, gunfire could be heard almost constantly across Khartoum. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
The conflict between the RSF and Sudan’s armed forces began on April 15. The World Health Organization reported that at least 413 people have died, while injury estimates are as high as 3,551.
One U.S. citizen was killed during the conflict. The American, who was not identified, did not work for the U.S. Embassy.
“We can confirm the death of one U.S. citizen in Sudan,” a State Department spokesperson said to Fox News. “We are in touch with the family and offer our deepest condolences to them on their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have nothing further to add.”
The Associated Press and Fox News Digital’s Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.