THE UK’s armed forces have evacuated British diplomats and their families from Sudan to escape fighting. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the British military had undertaken a “difficult” operation to evacuate UK officials from Sudan following fears embassy staff could be targeted.

Hundreds have died in a bloody conflict between the Sudanese army and a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

READ MORE: Scottish Tories ‘crying crocodile tears’ over Lord Frost’s attack

Sunak tweeted: “UK armed forces have completed a complex and rapid evacuation of British diplomats and their families from Sudan, amid a significant escalation in violence and threats to embassy staff.

“I pay tribute to the commitment of our diplomats and bravery of the military personnel who carried out this difficult operation.”

It comes after a UK Government source announced on Saturday that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) would be delivering a diplomatic evacuation plan “as soon as feasible”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace revealed the operation to remove British Embassy staff from Sudan involved more than 1200 personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The National: Wallace said 1200 forces personnel were part of the evacuationWallace said 1200 forces personnel were part of the evacuation

“This morning, UK Armed Forces undertook a military operation alongside the United States; France and other allies,” Wallace said in a written statement.

“They have evacuated British Embassy staff and their dependants from Khartoum due to the escalating threats against diplomats.

“The operation involved more than 1200 personnel from 16 Air Assault Brigade; the Royal Marines and the RAF. I am grateful to all our partners.”

The Sudanese army had on Saturday said Britain was one of a number of nations, including the US and China, that it would be assisting to help remove its officials from the dangerous conditions in the country.

READ MORE: Holyrood’s ability to protect Scots is under attack

Prospects of airlifting people out of Sudan had been complicated by the fact most major airports have become battlegrounds and movement out of the capital has proven perilous.

The UK Government has stated that a more large-scale evacuation could prove a challenge, with Britain lacking the military footprint it had in Afghanistan which saw thousands airlifted out of Kabul during Operation Pitting in 2021.

Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK would continue to act as a broker for a peace deal in Sudan.

Cleverly said a “temporary lull” in the nine days of fighting had given Britain’s armed forces a window of opportunity to strike.

The National: Cleverly defended prioritising evacuating diplomats Cleverly defended prioritising evacuating diplomats

He defended prioritising an evacuation for what is thought to have been a small number of diplomats, arguing it would allow the UK Government to strengthen efforts to assist British nationals trapped in Sudan.

The Foreign Secretary told broadcasters: “The diplomats that were working in the British Embassy in Khartoum have been unable to discharge their functions because of the violence in that city.

“So, to fulfil our duty to protect them as their employer, we are relocating them to other embassies in the region.

“In order to continue to protect British nationals, we will of course be enhancing our teams in the region.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie responds to SNP finance probe

“This is following the pattern we have seen of our international friends and colleagues.

“We will continue on our diplomatic effort to bring this conflict to a swift conclusion because until that happens, we are severely limited in our ability to provide assistance to British nationals.”

The Prime Minister said his administration was pursuing “every avenue to end the bloodshed in Sudan” and ensure the safety of British nationals remaining there.

“I urge the parties to lay down their arms and implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to ensure civilians can leave conflict zones,” Sunak added.

Before the evacuation was announced, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth had said it was a “legitimate question” as to why the UK Government had not acted like others in removing staff and citizens from the country.

He also called for Parliament to be updated this week on the state of play in Sudan.

At the time of Ashworth’s interview with Sky News, the US had already announced a successful airlift mission to assist about 70 embassy staff into Ethiopia.

France, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy are putting aircraft in place to carry out similar operations.