The situation in Syria is better now than it was a few months ago, Syrian President Bashar Assad announced in a rare television appearance on Tuesday. The interview was the first since a bombing in Damascus on July 18 killed four of his top security officials, including his brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.

In an interview broadcast on al-Dounia TV, Assad told the Syrian people that the recent spike in violence was a “cleansing of our nation” of people who were not “good and nationalist.” His prognosis of the civil war was optimistic; he said that “the situation is now better, but the crisis is not over yet because it takes time.”

The Syrian Army, which according to opposition sources is largely responsible for the estimated 20,000 deaths since the commencement of hostilities in February 2011, is “the main reason this country stood on its feet,” Assad said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that at least 140 Syrians were killed on Tuesday, 160 on Monday, and 200 on Sunday.

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The embattled Syrian president dismissed the possibility of foreign intervention in the 18-month civil war, stating that “I do not think a no-fly zone is possible, and even the foreign countries that are against us don’t think it’s possible.”

He also made a veiled jab at his former ally, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for his intensifying criticism of Damascus. “Do we fall back because of the ignorance of some officials in Turkey?” Assad asked the interviewer.

Assad called on his supporters to take a stand against rebels saying, “your fate is in your hands, and only your hands.”