BASRA/SAO PAULO - The bodies of 20 Iraqi sailors have been recovered after their ship sank following a collision off the country’s southern coast, the transport ministry said on Thursday.

The Al-Misbar sank in Iraqi waters on Saturday following the collision with a foreign-flagged vessel, after which eight sailors were rescued and the bodies of four others found.

The ministry said in a statement that 16 more bodies were found when the ship was raised on Thursday. Iraqi authorities have ordered the foreign vessel impounded following the collision, which took place in the Khor Abdullah maritime canal between Iraq and Kuwait.

Meanwhile, as Iraqi forces advance through Tal Afar, their religious songs mix with the crackle of gunfire by Islamic State group militants and the boom of air strikes.

The battle to oust the militants from one of their last strongholds in Iraq is proceeding more quickly than expected.

On a dirt road covered with stones and obstacles left by retreating IS fighters, armoured vehicles of the Iraqi police and Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary units bounce along between the ruts.

To keep their morale high, the men in the front vehicle have connected up a loudspeaker that blasts out religious chants at full volume. Today’s goal is to seize the western district of Al-Wahda.

Police and Hashed fighters have already set up a base in a primary school in the adjacent Al-Kifah district.