U.S. military readying assets to aid Americans leaving Sudan, White House says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States is positioning naval assets to assist any Americans leaving Sudan but no major U.S. evacuation is under way as fighting continues, White House spokesman John Kirby said in a round of television interviews on Monday.

International evacuations have gathered pace amid a lull in the fighting after a sudden eruption of violence between the military and the well-armed Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group earlier this month.

“We are still looking at options. We’ve got military assets still in the region nearby should they be needed, but this is not the time to be conducting some sort of mass operation,” he told MSNBC in an interview.

He added that several dozen Americans were travelling overland in a United Nations-led convoy to Port Sudan and that the U.S. military was helping to monitor it via unmanned aerial systems.

“We’re going to be positioning naval assets in the Red Sea off of Port Sudan in case they’re going to be needed to help Americans who want to leave,” Kirby told the television network.

Kirby said U.S. officials have continued to talk to both sides in an effort to quell the violence but that it was possible the fighting could spread.

He reiterated the administration’s warning that Americans in Khartoum who have not already left should shelter in place.

“Right now, it’s not very safe to try to run some larger evacuation either out of a nearby air base or even just a rotary lift like we did the other night because the fighting is so intense,” he told ABC News in a separate interview.

The United States evacuated its embassy staff from Sudan over the weekend and has said it is deploying disaster response teams to help defuse a humanitarian crisis.

Kirby, who also spoke on CNN, added that it is not clear exactly how many Americans are in Sudan but that many are dual citizens who may not want to leave now.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; additional reporting by Jasper Ward; Editing by Toby Chopra and Kevin Liffey)