Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) on Sunday warned that current U.S. foreign policy could have negative consequences for years because the Syrian people would "take revenge" if the United States decided not to take military action to oust President Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, McCain suggested that the U.S. should respond to reports that the Assad regime used chemical weapons by creating a "safe zone" with aerial attacks and arming rebel forces.

"Be prepared with an international force to secure these stocks of chemical and perhaps biological weapons," the Arizona Republican advised. "There are a number of caches of these chemical weapons, they cannot fall into the hands of the jihadists, otherwise we will end up seeing those weapons used in other places in the Middle East. It's a very dangerous situation."

McCain added that both he and the American people did not want to see "boots on the ground," but he did want to give the rebels the assistance needed to shift the balance of power.

"We have to as an international group, plan and be ready operationally -- not just plan, but be ready operationally -- to go in and secure those areas," he explained. "But the worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria because it would turn the people against us."

"And just let me say, the Syrian people are angry and bitter at the United States. I was in a refugee camp in Jordan, and there are thousands of people and kids. And this woman who's a school teacher said, 'Sen. McCain, you see these people here? They're going to take revenge on those people who refuse to help them.' They're angry and bitter. And that legacy could last for a long time too unless we assist them."

Watch this video from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast April 28, 2013.