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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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August 11th, 2014
05:49 PM ET

The heartbreaking task of rescuing desperate Iraqi refugees

(CNN) – The Iraqi air force and fighters with the Kurdish peshmerga carried out a dramatic rescue mission Monday at Mount Sinjar, taking supplies to desperate Yazidis and bringing some on board the helicopter to make it safely out.

A CNN crew was on the flight that took diapers, milk, water and food to the site where thousands of people have been driven by ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

One of the most heartbreaking moments in such rescue missions is having to leave people behind, says CNN military analyst Lt. General Mark Hertling (Ret.).

"But at least they're doing something. This is the critical piece," said Hertling.

Monday's rescue demonstrates "that the Iraqi air force and peshmerga fighters are willing to go on offensive again. They've been given courage by the fact they're getting air support from the United States, and resupply of weapons," he said.

There is political turmoil surrounding Monday's nomination of a new Iraqi prime minister – Haider al-Abadi to succeed a defiant Nuri al-Maliki. But Hertling says the move sends a positive signal to Iraqis.

"This could give them a nationalistic surge again, to have a new Kurdish president nominating a new Shia prime minister with a new Sunni vice president and deputy prime minister," said Hertling.

For more of our interview with Lt. General Mark Hertling (Ret.), check out the video above and below.

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