Obama Eyes 'Further Action' in South Sudan
Almost 700 evacuated, including 380 Americans: State Department
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 23, 2013 7:13 AM CST
Updated Dec 23, 2013 7:48 AM CST
In this photo taken Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, food distribution by the World Food Program supported by the UN takes place for displaced people taking shelter in the UN compound in Bentiu, South Sudan.   (AP Photo/UNMISS, Anna Adhikari)
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(Newser) – With South Sudan facing the threat of a civil war, the US evacuated its citizens from the country over the weekend, and Washington is prepared to intervene further on Americans' behalf, President Obama told Congress in a letter. "I may take further action to support the security of US citizens, personnel, and property, including our Embassy, in South Sudan," the letter said, noting that some 46 troops had been sent to the country on Saturday. Another 45 are protecting the American embassy in Juba, the AP notes.

The letter was standard operating procedure and shouldn't be seen as a signal of increased US force, White House officials say, per the LA Times. Yesterday, chartered and military planes evacuated 380 Americans and 300 others, the State Department says. After a week that, per the Wall Street Journal, saw some 500 deaths in violence between rebel and government forces, roughly 40,000 people have taken shelter at UN posts, CNN reports. Six of 10 states have seen fighting, with rebels tied to former vice president Riek Machar holding a pair of state capitals.