British special forces have successfully carried out a high-risk mission to rescue UK diplomats and their families who were trapped in Sudan amid a fierce conflict raging in the country.
Late last night, a team of elite British operatives from the Royal Marines, SAS and Royal Air Force flew into Khartoum aboard three Chinook helicopters manned by US forces.
Once they landed, troops got hold of several local vehicles and drove into the city.
They sought out around two dozen British diplomats and their families who were holed up an area of Khartoum located in between two warring factions vying for control of the capital.
The location, near the epicentre of the conflict, proved challenging for the troops to reach and it was feared more soldiers and aircraft would be required for backup if the fighting was too intense.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the military operation carried out by UK special forces to rescue a group of 30 people made up of British diplomats and their families out of Sudan
A drone view shows smoke rising over Khartoum’s North Light Industrial Area as intense fighting continues in the Sudanese capital
Turkish citizens in Sudan’s capital Khartoum wait for evacuation due to the clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary
Passengers disembark at French military air base in Djibouti on April 23, during the evacuation of around 100 people from Sudan on the first French flight out of the war-hit country
Despite this, the team managed to drive the group of around 30 people – including children – to a convoy north of Khartoum, which then transported them to the Wadi Siedna airfield 18 miles outside of the city, passing through multiple checkpoints.
Once there, they boarded two Royal Air Force transport planes – a Hercules and A400M Atlas aircraft – which had arrived from a British military base in Cyprus, shortly after the British troops had landed. It took the evacuees to safety in the early hours of this morning.
The night-time evacuation was carried out in two stages and involved 1,200 military personnel.
It comes as hundreds of other British nationals in Khartoum face an uncertain fate, with many complaining of feeling ‘abandoned’ after the Government told them to seek shelter while embassy staff were rescued.
Ireland has confirmed it is planning to evacuate civilians, The Telegraph reports.
British-Sudanese writer Rozan Ahmed described hiding under a bed for six hours and told Sky news her area has been ‘shelled to shreds’ over the last few weeks.
She said: ‘If there is no plan to get me out, please say why? We have received no information as to our evacuation. I am alive only by the grace of God and by the strength of my family.
‘There are rogue soldiers in the streets raiding homes. We are terrified to a point where we have gone numb.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today hailed the brave efforts of the UK’s armed forces , saying the British military had undertaken a ‘difficult’ operation.
A team of elite British soldiers flew into Khartoum and evacuated around two dozen diplomats from the city
Turkish citizens queue outside a bus to transport them to the airport as clashes continue in Sudan
Over 100 French nationals and other nationalities have already been evacuated from Sudan in one of the first major extractions by a western nation since fighting began
Families await rescue in Sudan yesterday, bound for safety in Turkey
Turkish citizens, to be brought to Turkiye in the capital Khartoum due to the clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)
He tweeted: ‘UK armed forces have completed a complex and rapid evacuation of British diplomats and their families from Sudan, amid a significant escalation in violence and threats to embassy staff.
‘I pay tribute to the commitment of our diplomats and bravery of the military personnel who carried out this difficult operation.’
There have been warnings that extracting hundred of British citizens estimated to be in Sudan will be difficult, with a dangerous insurrection in the capital and serious damage to Khartoum’s airport.
Mr Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK would continue to act as a broker for a peace deal in Sudan.
Mr Cleverly has warned the UK is ‘severely limited’ in what aid it can provide to trapped nationals while fighting between the two warring factions drags on.
Former UK ambassador to Sudan, Sir William Patey, told the Guardian that evacuating civilians without a guarantee of safe passage could be ‘disastrous’ and added it was a ‘much more complex operation’ than extracting diplomats.
MP Alicia Kearns, chair of the foreign affairs committee, described the rescue efforts in Sudan as ‘the most challenging evacuation’ in any country for a long time.
She told Times Radio that evacuations were taking place against a backdrop of ‘looting, sexual assault and violence on a daily basis’.
Foreign Secretary Mr Cleverly has defended prioritising the evacuation for what is regarded as a small number of diplomats, arguing it would allow the UK Government to strengthen efforts to assist British nationals trapped in Sudan.
Smoke is seen rise from buildings yesterday during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan
The Foreign Secretary told broadcasters: ‘The diplomats that were working in the British Embassy in Khartoum have been unable to discharge their functions because of the violence in that city.
WESTERN NATIONS RUSH TO EXTRACT DIPLOMATS FROM WAR-TORN SUDAN
Sudan’s sudden slide into conflict between the army and a paramilitary group called Rapid Support Forces (RSF) stranded thousands of foreigners, including diplomats and aid workers – leading to rescue operations.
More than 100 people were evacuated from Sudan on the first French flight out of the war-hit country after a ‘complicated’ rescue operation, French officials said on Sunday.
According to a Djibouti airport source, 106 people landed in Djibouti by late afternoon, while a French official said another flight was on the way.
‘A plane has landed and another is in the air’, each plane allowing the evacuation of ‘a hundred people’, the French military said.
The foreign ministry in Athens said France had helped it evacuated some of its citizens, including two wounded.
‘They’re tired, tense, but very relieved to have arrived safe and sound,’ he said.
US special forces yesterday evacuated all of its government personnel and their dependents, along with a few diplomats from other countries, using helicopters that flew from a base in Djibouti and refuelled in Ethiopia. They were not fired on during the evacuation.
A German military aircraft carrying 101 people has left Sudan this evening as part of evacuation efforts in the conflict-torn country, the army said.
‘The first Airbus A400M of the (German army) is on its way back to Jordan with 101 evacuees,’ the army wrote on Twitter, adding that a total of three A400Ms had reached Sudan to pick up people to be evacuated.
Italy said its 140 nationals would be taken out of Sudan on Sunday night along with around 60 people from Switzerland, Vatican City and other European countries.
‘So, to fulfil our duty to protect them as their employer, we are relocating them to other embassies in the region.
‘In order to continue to protect British nationals, we will of course be enhancing our teams in the region.
‘This is following the pattern we have seen of our international friends and colleagues.
‘We will continue on our diplomatic effort to bring this conflict to a swift conclusion because until that happens, we are severely limited in our ability to provide assistance to British nationals.’
Despite the rescue operation, fears remain for other British nationals trapped in Khartoum. Yesterday, other Britons in Sudan accused the UK government of ‘abandoning’ them as preparations were being made for the evacuation of diplomatic officials.
The covert mission comes as violence took over the country’s capital last week.
Army units loyal to Sudan’s military ruler, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, are fiercely pitted against Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is deputy head of the ruling council.
More than 400 people have been killed, including a United Nations worker and an American citizen. A number of westerners have also had their homes and compounds ransacked.
Frightened residents, many low on water, food and other essentials, are said to have huddled inside their homes in the chaos-torn city where buildings have been gutted and set on fire.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden insisted the situation was ‘complex’ and rapidly moving but Labour’s Jon Ashworth questioned ‘why our Government is not acting in the same way that other governments are acting’.
After landing in Khartoum last night, the British soldiers drove to the UK embassy, which is situated in an area of the city ravaged by fighting.
During the day yesterday, around two dozen British diplomats and their family members had gathered together and awaited the troops’ arrival, according to Sky news.
The group, which is estimated to consist of 30 adults and children, was then carefully extracted from the area and taken on the 18-mile journey to the airfield.
In the event of any fighting or violence, UK defence planners had organised back-up troops and aircraft who, if in need, would move through the checkpoints with force and reach the diplomats.
If this were to happen, the soldiers already with the diplomats would attempt to protect them until further support arrived.
However, there was little disruption to the journey, allowing the soldiers to drive the group to the airfield, where an aircraft was waiting for takeoff at around 9am UK time.
Pictured is an aerial view of black smoke rising above the Khartoum International Airport
A drone view shows smoke rising over buildings a week after fighting began in North Khartoum, as seen from Omdurman, Sudan, April 22, 2023
The Prime Minister confirmed the evacuation of British diplomat staff in a statement on Sunday
People carry water during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace revealed today the operation to remove British Embassy staff from Sudan involved more than 1,200 personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (RAF).
‘This morning, UK Armed Forces undertook a military operation alongside the United States; France and other allies,’ Mr Wallace said in a written statement.
‘They have evacuated British Embassy staff and their dependants from Khartoum due to the escalating threats against diplomats.
‘The operation involved more than 1,200 personnel from 16 Air Assault Brigade; the Royal Marines and the RAF. I am grateful to all our partners.’
The Sudanese army had on Saturday said Britain was one of a number of nations, including the US and China, that it would be assisting to help remove its officials from the dangerous conditions in the country.
Prospects of airlifting people out of Sudan had been complicated by the fact most major airports have become battlegrounds and movement out of the capital has proven perilous.
The UK Government has stated that a more large-scale evacuation could prove a challenge, with Britain lacking the military footprint it had in Afghanistan which saw thousands airlifted out of Kabul during Operation Pitting in 2021.
Smoke rises during clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum on April 19
People pictured fleeing their neighbourhoods amid fighting between the army and paramilitaries in Khartoum on April 19
A destroyed military vehicle is seen in southern in Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday, April 20
The Prime Minister said his administration was pursuing ‘every avenue to end the bloodshed in Sudan’ and ensure the safety of British nationals remaining there.
‘I urge the parties to lay down their arms and implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to ensure civilians can leave conflict zones,’ Mr Sunak added.
Before the evacuation was announced, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth had said it was a ‘legitimate question’ as to why the UK Government had not acted like others in removing staff and citizens from the country.
He also called for Parliament to be updated this week on the state of play in Sudan.
The US had at the time of Mr Ashworth’s interview with Sky news already announced a successful airlift mission to assist about 70 embassy staff into Ethiopia.
France, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy are putting aircraft in place to carry out similar operations.
In a joint statement, Labour shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and shadow defence secretary John Healey said Britain’s armed forces ‘acted with bravery and professionalism’.
The pair called on ministers to set out their plans for providing assistance to Britons still in Sudan.
They said: ‘Many British nationals remain stuck in Sudan and we are deeply concerned about their welfare.
‘We need to know about Government plans to help them and the steps the UK is taking to support an immediate ceasefire.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12005657/Foreign-Office-accused-abandoning-hundreds-British-civilians-Sudan.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270