McCain: U.S. should intervene "quickly" on Syria

Updated at 8:23 a.m. ET

Sen. John McCain said on "CBS This Morning" Thursday that the United States should intervene "quickly" in the escalating violence in Syria, possibly by setting up no-fly zones or establishing safe passageways for refugees to flee into neighboring countries, but not by sending troops to the country in turmoil.

McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, talked with Charlie Rose about the dangerous unrest between rebels and the forces of President Bashar Assad.

"The United States should play a very important role, Charlie, along with other nations," said McCain. "Look, they're massacring their people."

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McCain said the United States could work with the leadership of the Arab League, "which has been very good on this." He would prefer using other countries to move weapons into Syria to help the rebels.

"If we really want to help these people, I'm confident that we can find ways to do so without the United States with boots on the ground or active intervention," said McCain, "but there's a lot of things that can be done, and we should be doing them and quickly while these people are dying in the street."

McCain's comments come a day after a senior U.S. official told British newspaper The Telegraph that U.S. Central Command has started reviewing what the military can do in the area. An unnamed senior State Department official also told the newspaper that the White House wants to use all diplomatic options before considering military ones but "that window is closing."

Above, watch Sen. John McCain's full interview on Syria and the birth-control debate on Capitol Hill