Israeli defense officials have told their American and Russian counterparts that if Iranian-backed forces attack Israel from inside Syria, Jerusalem will not hold back from retaliating with direct strikes against Tehran or other targets in Iran.  The officials delivered the message ahead of a national security statement expected Monday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Iranian

threats to hit Israel after recent strikes on Tehran-backed assets in Syria, according to a report by Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper. The developments come amid growing concern in Washington that Israel and Iran are on the verge of a clash that could spill dangerously beyond Syria, where there were reports Monday that missile strikes had killed more than two-dozen mostly Iranian forces supporting the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. READ MORE