• While insisting on the need for eventual Israeli-Syrian peace, a U.S. senior administration official said no deal was conceivable with the Damascus regime as it is currently behaving. [JTA/Forward]
• President Ahmadinejad and Grand Ayatollah Khamanei are basically playing the Game of Thrones in Iran. [NYT]
• The International Committee of the Red Cross wants proof that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is still alive, nearly two years after the last sign that he was. [Reuters/JPost]
• Five Russian nuclear experts who helped design Iran’s facility at Bushehr died in a plane crash. [Haaretz]
• President Obama announced a speeded-up pullout from Afghanistan, as well as a changed mission there that will now, in more limited fashion, focus on counterterrorism. [NYT]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.