Bashar al-Assad’s latest announcement, broadcast live on Syrian state television, has angered both US and UK officials.
He said: “whilst on my visit to Moscow, Mr Putin kindly offered to teach me how to play ice hockey. He has insisted that I go to Moscow regularly to learn the game. So I agreed.
“I believe these lessons will help the alliance between our countries in the fight against terrorism. And if I become good enough at the game, Mr Putin has also said that I can join Team Putin and play for Russia.”