European Union defence ministers on Tuesday unanimously backed France's request for help with military missions in the wake of the Paris attacks, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.
"France has requested aid and assistance in accordance with article 42-7. It's an article that has never been used before in the history of our union," Mogherini said, referring to part of the EU treaties that provides for solidarity of member states in the event one of them is attacked.
"Today the EU through the voices of all the member states unanimously expressed its strongest full support and readiness to give the assistance needed," she told a press conference in Brussels with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
"France will be in contact bilaterally in coming hours and days to express the support it requires and the EU will ensure the greatest effectiveness in our common response," former Italian foreign minister Mogherini added.
The French minister said the EU's support was a "political act of great significance".
Le Drian said it would "allow us in the hours to come to have bilateral talks where necessary" with other EU states to establish what aid France needed.
This aid could either be in support of France's Syria airstrikes but also in other theatres, adding that France "can't be everywhere at the same time."
"I felt a lot of emotion from my colleagues" over the Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic State group which left 129 people dead, he said, adding that many of his counterparts had addressed him personally in French to pay their respects.