'Mission accomplished': Behind the scenes of evacuating Egyptian troops from Sudan

Ahram Online , Thursday 20 Apr 2023

An informed Egyptian source revealed to Al Qahera News TV Station the behind the scene details in the evacuation and airlifting home of Egyptian soldiers who were in Sudan on a training mission at the time of the start of the fighting between the Sudanese army and the RSF earlier this week.

Smoke rises from the tarmac of Khartoum International Airport as a fire burns, in Khartoum, Sudan April 17, 2023 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video.


The informed source explained to the station that “a crisis management task force comprising the Egyptian Armed Forces and General Intelligence Service oversaw the successful evacuation and airlifting of most of these troops back home as well as the safe transfer of the remaining to the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum.”

“And President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi personally followed up on the operation,” the source added.

On Wednesday, Egypt was able to evacuate and repatriate 177 soldiers out of a total of 204 who were in Sudan on a training mission with the Sudanese army at the time of the outbreak of the fighting on Saturday.

Egypt was also able to evacuate the remaining 27 other soldiers to the Embassy of Egypt in Khartoum.

The source stressed to Al Qahera that “these Egyptian soldiers  were in Sudan for training purposes as part of the ‘Nile Eagles’ joint air exercise - these personnel were on a training mission and not on a combat one.”

A complex operation

The source described the successful evacuation and repatriation of the soldiers “as one of the most precise and complex operations.”

The operation was managed very wisely, and without getting involved in the ongoing conflict, he noted.

On Tuesday, three days into the conflict, President El-Sisi stressed that “these Egyptian troops were in Sudan for training purposes solely and not to support any particular side.”

The President also confirmed that intensive communications were taking place to ensure their safety and return home.

Today, the source explained to Al Qahera that “the Egyptian troops, who numbered 204, had been stationed at the Marawi air base and its adjacent area when the clashes broke out between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).”

“At that point, 177 personnel evacuate themselves from the airbase,’ the source said.

“However, 27 were held by the RSF at the site,” the source explained.

The road home

The crisis management task force set a goal of securing the safe repatriation of the 177 personnel who evacuated themselves from the base as well as the 27 personnel who were detained by the RSF, explained the informed source.

The first group - 177 personnel - were guided by the Egyptian General Intelligence Service and Military Intelligence onto a secure land route until they reached the Sudanese Dongola base, which was re-operated especially for the evacuation operation carried out by Egyptian military aircrafts.

The remaining 27 held at the Marawi base were freed in coordination with the Red Cross and other intermediaries.

“They [the 27 personnel] travelled 560 km to reach Khartoum and then have been handed over to the Egyptian Military Attaché in Khartoum,” the source added.

Mission accomplished

On Thursday, the Egyptian Armed Forces issued a statement describing the effort to repatriate most Egyptian troops and safely transfer the rest to the country’s embassy in the Sudanese capital.

 “On Wednesday, 19 April, all necessary coordination was undertaken with the Sudanese authorities to land three transport planes from the Egyptian Armed forces in an airbase in Sudan to carry out the mission of evacuating the Egyptian troops in a completely safe way, and that was followed by the takeoff of the three planes in three successive flights which carried the majority of the Egyptian forces to an Egyptian military base in Cairo,” the statement explained.

The Egyptian Armed Forces added that “in coordination with concerned Sudanese parties and friendly and brotherly countries as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the secure arrival of all remaining Egyptian to the Embassy of Egypt was accomplished.”

In parallel, also on Thursday, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained in a statement that Egypt coordinated with the UAE in the efforts to bring the remaining 27 Egyptian soldiers in Sudan to the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum.

 “The two brotherly countries [Egypt and the UAE] expressed their appreciation to the International Red Cross for its efforts in supporting the process of ensuring the safety of Egyptian soldiers,” the foreign ministry said.

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