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Ops 16. UK Special Forces Operations: Sudan

Britain’s Special Forces have been deployed operationally in at least 19 overseas countries in the past decade, new analysis reveals, raising questions over the degree of transparency and democratic consent these shadowy units operate under. The countries where there have been active operations are: Algeria, Estonia, France, Iran/Oman (Strait of Hormuz), Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mediterranean (Cyprus), Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.

This section outlines the extent of UKSF’s operations in Sudan.

The UK Special Forces (SF) covert mission to evacuate British diplomats and their families from Sudan’s warzone capital began under the cover of darkness. A team of SF British troops flew into Khartoum late on Saturday night the 22 April, onboard an American military aircraft that was part of a separate but coordinated US evacuation mission.

Upon landing, the British soldiers – including members of the SAS – left their American counterparts, acquired a number of local vehicles, and drove across the city towards where the UK embassy is located. The British mission and its diplomats were in an area of Khartoum that sits between Sudan’s two warring factions, making their extraction of note.

In tandem with this first leg of the mission, two Royal Air Force transport planes – a C-130 Hercules and an A400M Airbus – had taken off from RAF Akrotiri, a sprawling British military base in Cyprus. The aircraft, operating in coordination with the French and US armed forces and with permission from the Sudanese military, landed on a Sudanese airfield called Wadi Seidna, which is about 30km north of Khartoum, at around 1 am on Sunday morning, UK time. This was about an hour and a half after the US aircraft – carrying the initial team of elite British soldiers – had landed in Khartoum.

The team of SF soldiers then travelled with the diplomats from their assembly point in Khartoum to the airfield – a journey of about 30km (18 miles), through multiple checkpoints. A unit of troops from the two aircraft, which brought in military vehicles as well for the operation, also mobilised and moved towards the initial rescue team to assist.