Bashar al-Assad
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Reuters/Khaled Al Hariri

Iran has extended two lines of credit worth a total of $4 billion to Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad and hopes to open a third to prop up the war-torn nation’s oil industry in the face of international sanctions, according to a local news report.

Syrian Central Bank Gov. Adib Mayaleh said the “soft loan” from Iran, a long-standing supporter of the Assad regime, will “finance the needs of Syrian oil and oil derivatives,” Tishreen, a government-run daily in Damascus, reported on Monday.

“Iran continues to support Syria ... to provide a line of credit to finance the import of goods worth $1 billion,” Mayaleh said in the newspaper, according to an Arabic-to-English translation by Google.

SANA, the Syrian state news agency, reported in January that Iran had offered Syria a line of credit as Assad’s government drained foreign cash reserves on its brutal civil war, according to the AFP.

The Syrian pound has lost three-quarters of its value since the start of the civil war in March 2011, falling from 50 pounds to 150 pounds to the U.S. dollar.

International involvement in the Syrian conflict has reached new levels this week as Hezbollah, the militant para-government that controls large swathes of southern Lebanon, openly declared war on the Syrian rebels, vowing to fight to keep Assad in power.

And earlier on Tuesday, the European Union lifted an arms embargo on Syria, allowing the United Kingdom and France to sell weapons to what they said were “moderate” factions in the Syrian resistance. Other EU countries, led by Austria, refused to send firearms, fearing they would fall into the hands of fighters sympathetic to al-Qaeda.