National Guard troops defending the US Capitol have been given lethal weapons to carry as senior officials launched an unprecedented security operation to protect government buildings.
Around 15,000 National Guard troops are expected to be deployed to Washington DC ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20 amid fears the days leading up to his swearing-in could be marked by violent protests.
Thousands of troops have already been stationed in and around Congress in the aftermath of the storming of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on January 6.
The Pentagon has approved moves to arm all the troops around the Capitol complex with lethal weapons, including assault rifles, as well as Kevlar body armour and gas masks. Previously troops in the District of Columbia had only carried protective gear.
The change is part of an unprecedented security operation to protect Mr Biden’s inauguration ceremony and the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump currently being conducted in the House of Representatives.