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The U.S. military sent two B-52 heavy bombers for a “routine mission” in the contested South China Sea on Tuesday, just days after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lambasted Beijing’s continued militarization of its outposts in the strategic waterway.

The U.S. Pacific Air Forces, which oversees operations in the region, told The Japan Times that the two nuclear-capable bombers departed a navy facility on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean for training “in the vicinity of the South China Sea” prior to returning to Diego Garcia.

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