BRUSSELS - European banks will be able to open branches and accounts in Syria for use by the opposition, European Union governments decided on Friday, relaxing economic sanctions to help the rebels fighting President Bashar Assad.
The decision comes days after the European Union lifted its arms embargo on Syria to allow weapons deliveries to the opposition, in hopes of tilting the balance of the two-year conflict in which more than 80,000 people have died.
The EU hopes that by providing access to financial services it can help the rebels fund humanitarian aid and restore basic utilities.
Aid is urgently needed in parts of Syria. The Red Cross has said some areas of the country are a landscape of "devastation and destruction."