EFEBrussels

The Secretary General of NATO on Tuesday confirmed that the alliance began air operations with the international military coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Jens Stoltenberg said during a press conference that a NATO airborne early warning and control aircraft (AWACS)_ which uses radars to track ground targets_ provided assistance to international air force sorties on Oct. 20.

"The coalition's success has been enabled by the ability to work together," said Stoltenberg on the eve of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers, adding that the alliance was now offering direct support to Middle East operations with its AWACS surveillance aircraft.

He said that the alliance was committed to sustaining the momentum of the coalition military operations and its aim to defeat the IS group "once and for all."

Alliance leaders formally approved military cooperation with the coalition in its Warsaw summit in July and seeks to provide surveillance information gathered during flights in Turkish airspace and over international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

To this end the alliance hoped to improve the coalition's "air picture and make skies safer," Stoltenberg said.

The former Norwegian prime minister clarified that the AWACS would not engage in combat operations.

In other operations, NATO has been training hundreds of Iraqi officers in Jordan_ focusing on military medicine and bomb disposal_ ahead of their redeployment to the field in the war against the IS in Iraq.

Stoltenberg said that NATO is looking to strengthen its cooperation with the European Union, improving operations on cyber defense and maritime security.

Alliance officials are due to meet with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini on Thursday to discuss the implications of deeper military collaboration with the bloc.