Blinken acknowledges attacks on Sudan convoys carrying Americans
Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledges attacks on Sudan convoys carrying Americans
The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces on Monday agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire starting at midnight, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
During this period, the United States urges the SAF and RSF to immediately and fully uphold the ceasefire,” Blinken said. “We will continue to work with the Sudanese parties and our partners toward the shared goal of a return to civilian government in Sudan.
FILE: 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)
Earlier, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the USS Truxtun, a destroyer, was stationed off the coast of Sudan and the USS Lewis B. Puller, the first expeditionary sea base in the US fleet, was en route to provide transportation and medical care to American citizens should they wish to flee the rapidly deteriorating country.
Questioned on the capabilities, Ryder said the vessels will be awaiting possible orders from the State Department should they be needed.
“Those capabilities will be there should we need to use them in support of State Department’s efforts,” Ryder said.
U.S. special operations forces carried out a precarious evacuation at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan Sunday, sweeping in and out of the capital with helicopters on the ground for less than an hour. No shots were fired and no major casualties were reported.
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Still, a considerable number of American citizens remain in Sudan, raising questions about what efforts are underway to evacuate them. An estimated 16,000 private U.S. citizens are registered with the embassy in Sudan, though that figure is fought because not all Americans register with the embassy or say when they will depart.
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin pressed Ryder on why the U.S. wasn’t doing more to evacuate its citizens as have other countries.
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)
Ryder said the State Department was exploring all options and communicating with Americans who want to leave Sudan.
“We’re going to continue to look at a variety of means and methods should the State Department call on us for support and we’ll continue to do that,” Ryder said.
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Ryder’s comments White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan who said earlier Monday that the Biden administration continues to look at “every conceivable option” to help Americans get out of Sudan but is not considering peacekeeping troops.
“It is not standard practice for the United States to send in the U.S. military” into warzones to extract American citizens, Sullivan said.
“We didn’t do it in Libya. We didn’t do it in Syria. We didn’t do it in Yemen, and no we didn’t do it in Ukraine. Afghanistan was a unique case involving the end of a 20-year war that the United States was centrally involved in.”
Sullivan said the U.S. “will go to great lengths to support and facilitate” the departure of Americans but also noted that the State Department has been cautioning Americans in Sudan to leave the country for years.
He added, “Americans are free people. We cannot dictate where they travel, tell them they must go or not go to a particular place.”
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The conflict between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues, and much more.