ALEX Salmond has called on the Home Office to speed up visa applications as a Scotswoman battles to bring her Syrian husband to the UK.

The family of Christine Gilmore, 33, from Edinburgh, contacted the Scottish Government over her fears that Ziad Arabi-Katbi will be killed before the ­decision is made.

She met her husband while studying in Damascus but the couple have been separated by the turmoil which has engulfed Syria.

The First Minister has written to Foreign Secretary William Hague to personally intervene and help the family be reunited. He said: "The plight of British citizens and their families caught up in the crisis has been brought to my attention. Professor Bill Gilmore and his wife Dr Patricia Gilmore have written to me about the case of their daughter Christine and her husband Ziad Arabi-Katbi.

"I understand that this is not the only case where the family members of British citizens are awaiting a decision on an application for a settlement visa. Given the dangerous situation in Syria I urge you and the Home Secretary to take action to prioritise these applications.

"The Gilmores, Mr Katbi and others seeking to be reunited safe from the conflict in Syria require reassurance that every effort is being made to avoid individuals being put at unnecessary risk as a result of delays in the processing of visa applications."

Mr Salmond also said that Scotland stands ready to "play its part" to help with the growing Syrian refugees crisis, and called on the UK Government to help provide a safe haven for those fleeing the war.

He said: "The Scottish Government supports the representations made by the Refugee Council and I urge you to prioritise applications from Syrians entering the UK and seeking asylum from the current atrocities."