The Marine security detachment guarding the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen left no operational weapons behind as troops evacuated the country, a senior Marine official with knowledge of the movement told Marine Corps Times.
Officials with the Sanaa airport told the Associated Press earlier today that Houthi rebels seized more than 25 official U.S. vehicles in the wake of the hasty departure of embassy staff, some with personal weapons left inside.
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, told reporters that the embassy's Marine security guard detachment destroyed larger weapons, including machine guns, and added that he believed they had turned over personal weapons to Yemeni officials because they could not take them on commercial flights.
But the Marine official, who asked that he not be identified because he was unauthorized to discuss the situation, said no working Marine weapons, whether crew-served or personal rifles and sidearms, had been were seized or handed over as the troops departed.
"No Marines handed over a functional weapon to anybody," the official said.
Each weapon was made inoperable before the Marines' departure, the official said. It was not clear, he said, whether the Marines had damaged the weapons' barrels, removed rifle bolts, or taken other steps to render them unusable.
At this point, the official said, a contingent of about 100 Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Central Command has left the country via air transportation from the airport at Sanaa. He was not certain whether the entire embassy security detachment had also departed as of Wednesday afternoon.
The move to evacuate Yemen follows a Tuesday announcement that the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa would close amid deteriorating security conditions following the country's takeover by Shiite Houthi rebels with ties to Iran. U.S. officials have said the embassy will remain closed until conditions in the country improve.
USA Today and the Associated Press contributed.