Egyptian army says 177 soldiers detained in Sudan are now back home, 27 remain at embassy
KHARTOUM (Reuters) -Three flights carrying 177 Egyptian troops from Sudan have arrived in Cairo and a separate group of 27 air force personnel are in the care of the Egyptian embassy in Sudan, the Egyptian army said on Thursday.
Sudan's capital, Khartoum, and its sister cities Omdurman and Bahri have been rocked by fierce battles between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), leaving many stranded and causing food supplies to run short.
The RSF said it had detained 27 Egyptian air force personnel after storming Merowe air base in northern Sudan on Saturday.
The Sudanese army released a statement on Thursday correcting an earlier statement that said the 177, who were evacuated from the town of Dongola, had been captured by the RSF at the Meroe base.
The Egyptian military has said the soldiers were in Sudan for training according to a joint protocol between the two countries. Egypt and Sudan have carried out multiple joint exercises since the beginning of diplomatic tensions with Ethiopia.
The handover of the troops took place with mediation from the United Arab Emirates, the Egyptian foreign ministry and UAE news agency WAM said. The RSF said it had handed over the men to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the capital Khartoum, and the Egyptian army said 27 were now at the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum.
They would be evacuated "as soon as the situation is stable and the necessary security circumstances are available", the Egyptian army said.
The Egyptian army said the 177 had been evacuated in three military flights on Wednesday night.
(Reporting by Hatem Maher, Clauda Tanios, Omar Abdel-Razek, and Jana Choukeir; writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Mark Porter, Cynthia Osterman and Nick Macfie)