UNITED NATIONS - Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations resolution that would have placed sanctions on Syria in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks.

The measure, backed by the Western powers of Britain, France and the United States, would have imposed sanctions on 21 Syrians, organizations and companies that were allegedly involved in chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015. Nine council members voted in favour of the resolution, drafted by France and Britain. Bolivia voted against the text, while Ethiopia, Egypt and Kazakhstan abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by permanent members - the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China - to be adopted. The resolution would have also banned all countries from supplying the Syrian government with helicopters, which were used in the attacks.

The measure was drafted after a joint investigation by the UN and a global chemical weapons watchdog determined the Syrian government carried out at least three attacks involving chlorine gas. The groups also found that the Islamic State extremist group was behind at least one attack involving the use of mustard gas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the draft resolution on Tuesday as “totally inappropriate.”

“For my friends in Russia, this resolution is very appropriate,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the 15-member council after the vote.

“It is a sad day on the Security Council when members start making excuses for other member states killing their own people. The world is definitely a more dangerous place,” she said.

The vote was one of the first confrontations at the United Nations between Russia and the United States since US President Donald Trump took office in January, pledging to build closer ties with Moscow.

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov called the resolution “one-sided”, and described the statements made against Moscow in the Security Council as “outrageous” and said “God will judge you.”

The resolution would have put 11 Syrians, mainly military commanders, and 10 entities linked to chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015 on a UN sanctions blacklist. The joint panel of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) also found that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters used mustard gas in an attack in 2015.The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons in the war that has killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced nearly half the country’s population since 2011.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday Ankara wanted to work with its allies to capture the Islamic State bastion of Raqa in Syria, but without the involvement of Syrian Kurdish militia.

“If our allies are really sincere, we tell them: We will act with you so long as we cleanse Raqa from Daesh and give it back to its original owners,” Erdogan said at an Istanbul airport before leaving for Pakistan. Daesh is an acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group. But he made clear Turkey would not fight alongside Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are viewed by Ankara as “terrorists”.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), are seen by Washington as the most effective force in the fight against IS but are condemned by Turkey.

Erdogan said Turkey clearly told Washington it would never cooperate with PYD or YPG.

“It is certainly not possible for us to agree with or act together with PYD or YPG,” he said.

Last August, the Turkish army launched a unilateral military campaign inside Syria, backing opposition fighters to clean its border from IS jihadists as well as Syrian Kurdish militia.

Compared to the lightning advance at the onset of its “Euphrates Shield” operation, the Turkish army sustained increasing casualties to capture Al-Bab.

The strategic town, just 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the Turkish border, was the jihadists’ last stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

On Friday, the Turkish military said together with allied Syrian rebels it had completely taken Al-Bab from jihadists.

Erdogan, who met with Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar on Monday, said Al-Bab operation was “completed.”

“But this doesn’t mean the process is over,” he said, adding that if Ankara reached an agreement with coalition forces, steps would be taken in Raqa.

He said Turkey was also talking to Moscow because “our solidarity with Russia is also important.”

Erdogan said Turkey’s Syria campaign had cost the jihadists a “very serious price,” saying more than 3,000 jihadists had been killed throughout the operation.