“US Drones Provide Protection as Hundreds of Americans Escape Sudan in Bus Convoy”

U.S. drones and other military assets protected a weekend bus convoy that moved hundreds of Americans through Sudan to the country’s coast, officials said, as Washington ramps up its effort to get citizens out of the war-torn African country as quickly as possible.

More than 200 Americans boarded buses that traveled more than 500 miles across Sudan. The convoy reached Port Sudan, a coastal city that’s relatively safe in comparison to other areas of the country that have been gripped by fighting between two rival armed factions.

Pentagon officials said that U.S. aerial and naval assets have aided in the push to get Americans out.

“The Department of Defense deployed U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to support air and land evacuation routes, which Americans are using, and we are moving naval assets within the region to provide any necessary support along the coast,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said Saturday in a statement. “Our focus has been and remains to help as many U.S. citizens depart as safely as possible.”

Locally employed staff and nationals from U.S. partner countries were also on board the bus convoy, the State Department said in a statement. Officials said some of the evacuees will be transported to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where the U.S. has set up emergency and consular services.

The Biden administration faced withering criticism for leaving some Americans and allies behind when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in the summer of 2021. With war raging in Sudan, the administration is trying to avoid a similar scenario.

“The U.S. government has taken extensive efforts to contact U.S. citizens in Sudan and enable the departure of those who wished to leave,” the State Department said. “We messaged every U.S. citizen in Sudan who communicated with us during the crisis and provided specific instructions about joining this convoy to those who were interested in departing via the land route. We encourage U.S. citizens who want to leave Sudan but chose not to participate in this convoy to contact the Department of State using the crisis intake form on our website.”

Evacuating personnel via land convoys is the best U.S. option, given the deteriorating situation on the ground, officials said.

Last weekend, the U.S. formally suspended its diplomatic mission in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. U.S. special forces helped evacuate about 100 diplomatic personnel from the American Embassy there.

But Pentagon officials last week said there were no plans for a larger airlift to get remaining Americans out of the country, leaving ground convoys as the only viable alternative.

The conflict in Sudan has reportedly killed more than 500 people. Thousands more have been wounded during the fighting between two rival military factions, the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, and the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF.

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