Yemeni military officials close to the country’s Shiite Houthi rebels said Thursday that the rebels are trading fire with warships from the Saudi-led military coalition near the Bab al-Mandab straight, the strategic southern entrance to the Red Sea and the gateway to the Suez Canal.

The development comes amid land clashes Thursday near the straight between units loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and rebel forces.

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