U.S. Navy destroyer patrols near islands built by China in South China Sea

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By Tim Kelly, Andrea Shalal and David Brunnstrom TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea on Tuesday, a U.S. defense official said, in a challenge to China's territorial claims in the area. The official said the USS Lassen was sailing near Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago, features that were submerged at high tide before China began a massive dredging project to turn them into islands in 2014. The mission would be the start of a series of challenges to China's territorial claims in one of the world's busiest sea lanes, another U.S. defense official said.