Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said “extremist forces” were responsible for the failure of a daily five-hour “humanitarian pause” in fighting in the Syrian rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, CNN reported.

On February 24, Putin had called for a truce around the same time the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution for a month-long ceasefire across Syria so people in the conflict-ridden country can receive humanitarian aid.

Putin accused representatives of “terrorist organisations” of preventing civilians from leaving. “The shelling from there never stops, and rocket and mortar attacks occur up to 80 times a day,” Pravda quoted Putin as saying.

“We offered to organise a humanitarian corridor to get children, wounded, all those who need help out of the region...If we all join our efforts to stabilise the situation in the country in general and in Eastern Ghouta, we are bound for success,” the Russian leader said at a news conference in Moscow.

The Russian military had accused the rebels of violating the ceasefire hours after the truce went into effect on February 27. “Right now, there is intensive fire from the rebel side and not one civilian has left [the restive region of eastern Ghouta],” Russian General Viktor Pankov had been quoted as saying.

Turkey fighting Kurds in Afrin

Meanwhile, scores of civilians have been killed in the north Syrian city of Afrin in shelling by the Turkish military, the BBC reported on Thursday. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as YPG, controls the enclave. The YPG is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been battling the Turkish state for autonomy in the southeastern part of the country for three decades.

The Kurdish Red Crescent said that Turkish-led forces have killed 93 civilians, including 24 children, between January 22 and February 21. “It used to be we who were attacking the Islamic State, but now we are losing fighters every day and we have had 170 killed since the start of the Turkish operation,” Aldar Khalil, Co-Chairperson of the Syrian-Kurdish Movement for a Democratic Society, told Independent. The People’s Protection Units will fight to the end for Afrin and will never surrender, he added.