BIN JAWAD (AFP/Reuters) - Libyan rebels said they pushed their campaign closer to Tripoli on Saturday by seizing an eastern town, as fierce fighting raged on in a key town west of the capital and casualties rose on both sides. As the battle to unseat leader Moamer Gaddafi gathered pace, the recently formed national council held its first formal meeting in Benghazi. The self-proclaimed national council declared itself the sole representative of the country. The council declares it is the sole representative all over Libya, former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil told a news conference, reading from a prepared statement after the body held its first formal meeting. A rebel officer said we pushed them past Bin Jawad and today we will pound them back to Sirte, Gaddafis hometown, about 150 kilometres to the west. An AFP reporter saw groups of rebels in Bin Jawad, a small settlement of two restaurants, shacks and houses. A dust storm had drastically reduced visibility in Ras Lanuf on Saturday. Among rebels, there were reports of negotiations for a peaceful entry into Sirte, although that would seem unlikely given its symbolism for Gaddafi. Defected soldier Ibrahim al-Atrashi said that, in the past three days, 7,000 men have moved from Benghazi west towards the front. After heavy clashes on Friday, the rebels controlled Ras Lanuf, a pipeline hub on the Mediterranean coast. Hospitals in rebel-held towns to the east said they had received up to 10 dead and more than 20 wounded from Fridays fighting for the town. Atrashi said 16 rebels died. He also said 25 loyalists were killed, but that was impossible to confirm independently. Meanwhile, the death toll from mysterious twin explosions at an arms dump in the rebel-held eastern city of Benghazi on Friday night rose to between 32 and 34, a doctor said Saturday. Libyan planes were circling overhead in Bin Jawad and Ras Lanuf, about 40 kilometres east. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Saturday his country was seeking a UN Security Council resolution to impose a no-fly zone. Rebels holding the Libyan city of Zawiyah repelled two attacks on Saturday by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi using tanks and artillery to retake the strategic town near the capital. In a second day of fierce fighting for control of the coastal town, 50 km west of Tripoli, government forces retreated to the outskirts early in the day but later mounted a counter-offensive. Rebels said both attacks were repelled. The city bore the signs of heavy fighting, with one building completely burnt and smouldering rubble littering the centre. Later, there were reports tanks manned by Gaddafis forces had fired on houses when they launched a fresh assault on the strategic protest centre. At least seven people were killed in the offensive and there are dozens of wounded, a doctor in Zawiyah told AFP earlier. The doctor and a resident stressed that, despite the heavy assault, rebels were still in control of the centre of Zawiyah. Another resident said loyalists had been pushed out of the town. Britains Ministry of Defence said Saturday that about 200 troops had been placed on standby to help with evacuation and humanitarian operations in Libya.