Obama Eyes 'Further Action' in South Sudan

Almost 700 evacuated, including 380 Americans: State Department

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 23, 2013 7:13 AM CST | Updated Dec 23, 2013 7:48 AM CST

(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.

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.
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)
In this UN photo, wounded civilians from Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, are assisted after being transported by UN helicopters to Juba, South Sudan, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013.
In this UN photo, wounded civilians from Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, are assisted after being transported by UN helicopters to Juba, South Sudan, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013.   (AP Photo/UNMISS)
In this photo taken Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, and released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS relocates non-critical staff from Juba, South Sudan.
In this photo taken Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, and released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS relocates non-critical staff from Juba, South Sudan.   (AP Photo/UNMISS, Irene Scott)
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