A top European Union court has upheld sanctions imposed on the uncle of Syrian President Bashar Assad, including an asset freeze and visa ban.

The EU's General Court in Luxembourg on Wednesday dismissed the Syrian's appeal to have his name removed of a list of close associates against whom the 28-nation EU imposed sanctions in 2011.

The court said the EU succeeded in proving that Mohammad Makhlouf "is a member of the ruling economic class in Syria" while it cannot be denied he "has a decisive influence, as a principal adviser, over all the primary circle of rulers of the Syrian regime."

More than 200 people are subject to EU sanctions related to Syria.