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US orders embassy staff to leave Chad as rebels near capital

US orders embassy staff to leave Chad as rebels near capital
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The State Department ordered nonessential U.S. personnel out of Chad on Sunday amid growing concerns about advancing rebel forces in the country.

The announcement was posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Chad, which pointed to the proximity of rebel groups to the nation's capital.

"On April 17, 2021, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees from U.S. Embassy N’Djamena due to civil unrest and armed violence," the warning read.

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"Armed non-governmental groups in northern Chad have moved south and appear to be heading toward N’Djamena. Due to their growing proximity to N’Djamena, and the possibility for violence in the city, non-essential U.S. Government employees have been ordered to leave Chad by commercial airline. U.S. citizens in Chad wishing to depart should take advantage of commercial flights," it continued.

Rebel groups have frequently tried to overthrow Idriss Déby, Chad's self-proclaimed president who has ruled the country for more than three decades after launching a successful coup himself. Déby is supported by France and the U.S., which consider him and the country an important ally against Islamist extremists in the region.

Rebel forces posted on social media late last week that they had overtaken a Chadian army base in the country's northern region, while claiming that the army was receiving logistical support from France.

"The enemy, despite the logistical support of the French Air Force, was totally routed," read a statement from a Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) spokesperson, according to Reuters.

France's defense ministry would not confirm to the news service whether it was involved in the ongoing security efforts in Chad.

--Updated at 2:50 p.m. on 4/18