Syrian government forces began a counteroffensive Saturday after rebels tried to break the government’s siege of Aleppo on Friday. The rebels’ push to break the siege prompted Russia’s Defense Ministry to publicly seek permission from President Vladimir Putin to renew air strikes after nearly 10 days in which the army said it did not launch any strikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that renewed regime airstrikes were hitting mostly Aleppo’s southern and western edges. According to the monitoring group, the offensive was being conducted under cover of Syrian and Russian airstrikes. As of Saturday afternoon, intense clashes were under way between regime forces and rebels in the Zahraa neighborhood in western Aleppo.