Fighting rages in Yemen near strategic Red Sea strait

Author: the associated press
MGN Online

SANAA, Yemen (AP) – Military units loyal to Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi clashed with Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies Thursday in pitched battles near the Bab al-Mandab straight, the strategic southern entrance to the Red Sea and the gateway to the Suez Canal, military and security officials said Thursday.

The pro-Hadi units were backed by air support from a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Houthi positions and has sent reinforcements from the nearby southern port city of Aden, said the officials, who have remained neutral in the conflict that has splintered the country.

The Houthis have been in control of the strategic area for several months and still control the vast majority of the land mass, according to the officials.

The U.N. says at least 2,355 civilians have been killed in fighting in Yemen since March, when a Saudi-led coalition began launching airstrikes against Houthis and allied army units. The Houthis have been in control of the capital Sanaa since last September and are at war with the internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists.

Saudi and Egyptian warships have been deployed off the coast of Yemen to secure the strategically vital Bab el-Mandab. The straight is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, a major route for oil from the Gulf and cargo between Europe and Asia.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

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