U.S. sailors conducting small boat operations approach the USNS Brunswick, a fast-transport ship, in April 2019 near Polowat of the Federated States of Micronesia in the Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. sailors conducting small boat operations approach the USNS Brunswick, a fast-transport ship, in April 2019 near Polowat of the Federated States of Micronesia in the Indo-Pacific region. (Tyrell K. Morris/U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — The USNS Brunswick evacuated 300 people including at least some American citizens to Saudi Arabia from Sudan, where warring military factions continue a bloody struggle for control of the country, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

“The Brunswick has returned to Port Sudan to be available to transport any additional citizens,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson, told reporters.

The Brunswick, a fast-transport ship, is one of three Navy ships off the Sudanese coast positioned to evacuate Americans from Sudan across the Red Sea to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Also stationed off the coast are the USS Truxtun, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and USS Lewis B. Puller, a mobile-base ship. Ryder said all three vessels are there “to provide us with options, should we need that capability.”

The Pentagon has been working with the State Department for weeks to identify American citizens who are still in the battle-scarred northeastern African country and want to leave.

Military officials said last week that there were only a “relatively small number” of Americans in Sudan who were still trying to get out. The Pentagon also said the U.S. is focused on establishing multiple evacuation routes — mainly over land — to transportation hubs such as airports in Khartoum and ships in Port Sudan.

The Pentagon has not specified how many of the 300 evacuees aboard the Brunswick were American citizens or whether all were Americans. The journey from Port Sudan to Jeddah is close to 200 miles.

The fighting in Sudan has been ongoing since the middle of April and is part of a bloody dispute between the country’s armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The two sides cooperated in 2021 to overthrow Sudan’s democratic transitional government, but are now involved in a power struggle. The United Nations estimates that several hundred people have been killed in the fighting so far.

U.S. Africa Command and the State Department are still working to find Americans who are still in the country and want to leave. Ryder said the group of citizens who were evacuated across the Red Sea were also aided from the capital city of Khartoum to the coast so they could board the Brunswick — a distance of more than 400 miles.

Additionally, the United States is still conducting surveillance and reconnaissance efforts over Sudan for constant updates about new and existing evacuation routes, the Pentagon said.

“As long as there are American citizens in Sudan who are seeking our assistance in leaving Sudan, we will continue to do this,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday. “We have been working very hard to make sure that our embassy personnel were able to get to safety and that American citizens with whom we were in contact and asked for assistance were also able to get to safety.”

The government of South Sudan said Tuesday that both sides have agreed to a new, longer cease-fire agreement that will last from Thursday to May 11. However, neither the Sudanese armed forces nor the Rapid Support Forces had acknowledged the reported cease-fire by Tuesday afternoon.

Negotiations during previous cease-fires have failed to stop all the fighting in Sudan. The Sudanese military mostly controls areas in northeastern Sudan and the RSF has control of most areas in the southwest, according to news reports. The U.N. Refugee Agency has said as many as 800,000 people might flee Sudan for other countries.

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Doug G. Ware covers the Department of Defense at the Pentagon. He has many years of experience in journalism, digital media and broadcasting and holds a degree from the University of Utah. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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