U.S. troops posted for rescue mission as Sudan clashes continue

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The Pentagon is moving forces in East Africa in case they are needed to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Sudan following days of intense fighting between warring factions vying for power in the country.

On Thursday, Defense Department officials said they were monitoring the deteriorating situation in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, which threatened the security of U.S. diplomats and others. The fighting is between the army-dominated Sudanese government and a paramilitary group led by a rival general.

The troops will be positioned at the Pentagon’s Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, located on the Horn of Africa, U.S. defense officials told reporters. NBC News reported that one possible response force would be a combination of Marine air power and Army ground units.

“We are deploying additional capabilities nearby in the region for contingency purposes related to securing and potentially facilitating the departure of U.S. Embassy personnel from Sudan if circumstances require it,” Lt. Col. Phil Ventura, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday in a statement. “As a matter of policy and security, we do not speculate on potential future operations.”

With the fighting raging on for nearly a week in the capital and other cities, diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum are calling on both parties to end hostilities and return to negotiations. Officials and private groups say that more than 270 civilians have already been killed in the clases, while access to hospitals and other medical services has been severely disrupted.

“Sudan’s military leaders must engage in dialogue without delay. Their actions across Sudan have placed countless people at risk and set back the Sudanese people’s rightful calls for a peaceful democratic transition,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

Much of the fighting has occurred in and around Khartoum. The U.S. Embassy remains under a shelter-in-place order until further notice and is unable to provide emergency consular services.

“Due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and closure of the airport, it is not currently safe to undertake a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens,” the embassy said.

Camp Lemonnier is the only permanent U.S. military base of the African continent. It’s the home of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa of the U.S. Africa Command and is situated next to Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport in Djibouti City. U.S. military units regularly train at Camp Lemonnier, a former French Foreign Legion base.

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