WASHINGTON (AFP/Reuters) - The US State Department, still mourning the loss of its diplomats in a bloody attack on a mission in Libya, cheered the Oscar win for “Argo” based on a true life tale of diplomatic bravery.

“I think we all were excited to see it win,” deputy acting spokesman Patrick Ventrell told journalists of Ben Affleck’s film which picked up the coveted best picture award at the Oscars on Sunday night.

The movie tells the story of a CIA operation to spirit six US diplomats out of Iran at the height of the 1979 hostage crisis, when Iranian took over the US embassy in Tehran holding some 52 people for 444 days. Although some of the events portrayed in the film have been treated with a large degree of artistic license, the State Department allowed director Affleck’s team to film some of the scenes in its main building in Washington. “We cooperated with them in some of the production aspects of, you know, filming inside of this building,” Ventrell said.

New Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday tweeted ahead of the awards ceremony in Los Angeles wishing “Good luck @BenAffleck and #Argo” and adding “nice seeing @StateDept & our Foreign Service on the big screen - JK.”

Affleck, who also stars in the movie, tweeted back his thanks, adding “Grateful for the outstanding service and sacrifice of US diplomats and their families!”

Kerry, who took over earlier this month from Hillary Clinton, has vowed to make the protection of the department’s almost 70,000 staff and 275 diplomatic outposts one of his top priorities.

Whereas, a former Swissair official said the airport scenes in Oscar-winning film “Argo” were a realistic depiction of the airline’s unwitting role in the rescue of American diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Heinz Koch, who was in charge of the now defunct air carrier’s operations in Tehran at the time, said Swissair was not told about the true identities of the “very important Canadian passengers” until months after it carried the six US diplomats to safety aboard one of its airplanes.

“I was informed by the Canadian embassy that they have on this particular day very important Canadian passengers on board and we should make sure that they were not off-loaded last minute. But this was purely a reservation question, we had no direct impact on immigration,” he told World Radio Switzerland.

“It was a few months later when we got the first information that probably these US diplomats were on board this particular Swissair flight. But we made sure that this information didn’t pass around the world,” Koch said. “We still wanted to operate to and from Tehran and it would have been a big risk if the authorities would have known that we were involved in this operation,” he added.

Travellers had to pass through many checkpoints on the roads, manned by Revolutionary Guards, he said. “But we as Swiss we usually passed without problems. The problem was to prove that you were not a US citizen because they were looking for the Americans,” Koch said.

Many Iranians and expatriates were trying to flee Iran, Koch said. Asked if he recalled anything particular on the day of the now historic escape, he said: “No, for us it was a regular flight as we operated every morning non-stop from Tehran to Zurich. The flights were always overbooked, we were one of the very few airlines still operating to Iran,” he said.